Samsung’s annual CES booth never fails to impress with its enormity and the all-encompassing breadth of technologies showcased by the Korean tech giant. 2020 proved no different, with large crowds drawn to the show’s main hall by the promise of spying the company’s next-generation of 8K televisions with near non-existent bezels, the future of AI in the home, and smart home appliances engineered to connect the dots between traditionally disparate devices. But from our observation from the showfloor this year, the real fan favorite was one of Samsung’s most diminutive designs: Ballie.
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Representative of Samsung’s efforts to personalize robotics into everyday family life, the grapefruit-sized Ballie is an artificial intelligence enhanced and camera equipped robot engineered to follow voice command and accompany the home’s inhabitants with the same attentive loyalty as everyone’s favorite ball-shaped droid.
Announced as an example of robotic “life companions”, Ballie’s primary function at the moment seems to be its ability to navigate floors autonomously and answer to voice commands – abilities we watched it do with fair-good ability in the crowded/loud halls of CES. Samsung CEO H.S. Kim describes Ballie as a robot that “supports you and reacts to your needs to be actively helpful around the house”, in essence working as both pet and butler.
Ballie’s real world capabilities are all hypothetical for now, but it’s easy to imagine this rolling little friend being used in households to check-in with kids, pets, or seniors. Or as a rolling security monitoring device while away from home, like your very own BB-8 style droid. Ballie is also envisioned to operate as mobile remote control for smart home functions, and at CES was shown to react to changes in the home environment, activating another internet-equipped air purification robot.
Samsung is staying mum about the future/availability of Ballie for now, but by all accounts they’ve already won the hearts and interest of CES attendees with a form factor that rolls into the realm of cute.