Jibo is a friendly robo-assistant designed to become "part of the family." Equipped with cameras and microphones, it can recognize faces, understand what people say, and respond in an amiable voice. It also loves to dance.
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The first prototypes of Jibo looked like soda cans with smartphones glued on them. Some models had a cartoonish antenna sticking out of the top.
Jibo Inc., based in Boston, Mass., was cofounded by Cynthia Breazeal, an MIT professor who pioneered the field of social robotics. In 2014, Breazeal's team unveiled Jibo, a personal robot designed as a companion and helper to families. With a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, Jibo amassed US $3.7 million in preorders. The company said the robot, equipped with speech recognition and full of character, would be able to check the weather, read the news, snap pictures, and tell jokes, among other things. But by the time Jibo started arriving in homes, in late 2017, much of its functionality could be found in smartphones and voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home. Jibo received mixed reviews, and its capabilities and "personality" worked for some people, but left others disappointed. In 2018, Jibo Inc. closed its office and completed the sale of its assets and intellectual property to a New York–based investment management firm. It wasn't clear what would happen with existing Jibos; after a software update in early 2019, Jibo displayed a goodbye message, telling users that most of its functionality would be lost once its servers are turned off.