Samsung unveiled an updated version of its Ballie robot companion at CES 2024 in Las Vegas earlier today. Ballie, first introduced as a concept at CES 2020, is a small, rolling robot powered by artificial intelligence that can function as a home assistant and pet caretaker.
The new version of Ballie features several key upgrades, most notably the addition of a built-in projector.
Ballie 2.0 Offers Upgraded AI Capabilities
According to official press releases from Samsung, Ballie has received significant AI advancements to better aid users in the home:
Enhanced Computer Vision: Ballie can now recognize and understand objects, pets, faces and environments at a more detailed level to respond appropriately in different situations. For example, Ballie may now be able to recognize when a pet makes a mess or someone unfamiliar enters a home.
Two-Way Communication: Ballie’s microphone and speaker setup allows it to comprehend and respond to vocal commands. Users can verbally ask Ballie to set reminders, control other smart home devices, capture photos/videos and more.
Improved Autonomy: With its onboard AI, Ballie 2.0 operates more independently to proactively assist users and learn their preferences over time. It may roll over to greet a family member at the door or remind someone to take medication.
Built-In Pico Projector for Visual Assistance
In addition to the AI advancements, Ballie now features an integrated pico projector. This allows Ballie to visually display contextual cues and information on walls around the home.
Potential projector use cases include:
- Displaying smart security camera feeds when motion is detected
- Projecting reminder messages like taking medicine or upcoming appointments
- Showcasing family photos or videos as a digital photo frame
- Serving as an ambient mood light with personalized designs/colors
Samsung demonstrated Ballie’s projector lighting up a hallway and bedroom with decorative patterns during the CES keynote. The projected visual elements respond dynamically based on Ballie’s current function.
Other Hardware Updates
Beyond the additions of upgraded AI and an embedded projector, the new Ballie robot has received smaller hardware tweaks:
- Smoother, more durable outer shell for improved mobility
- Larger, higher-fidelity speaker for better vocal interactions
- Higher resolution camera for enhanced computer vision capabilities
Expanded Companion Features
As a home companion, Ballie aims to assist users while expressing its own personality. New companion features include:
- Pet Care: Ballie can now identify pets with greater accuracy. When users are away, Ballie will roll over to entertain pets, monitor them with its camera, and even dispense food or water. Owners can check in remotely via video feed.
- Fitness Assistant: With built-in exercise recommendations and the ability to demonstrate motions, Ballie can guide workout routines. Its projector comes in handy for following along with visualizations.
- Photography Help: Ballie will now suggest photo opportunities in the home, including family moments and scenic views. Users can ask Ballie to capture group selfies hands-free.
- Gaming Buddy: Designed to intermingle cutely among household members, Ballie suggests fun group activities and games with its projector enabling interactive play.
Pricing and Availability
Samsung has not revealed final pricing or retail availability for the upgraded version of Ballie at this time. As the previous iteration never launched widely, the 2024 model serves more as a conceptual glimpse into the future for Samsung.
Industry analysts expect Samsung to gauge public reception before finalizing consumer rollout plans for Ballie 2.0. But given the major upgrades, strong early buzz, and Samsung’s growing focus on AI, many believe Ballie may hit the consumer market within the next 1-2 years. Its unique blend of smart assistant and quirky companion could appeal to multiple demographics if execution lives up to the hype.
What’s Next for Samsung Ballie?
With its charming personality and expanding feature set, Ballie represents a brave new frontier for Samsung into AI consumer robotics. If Ballie gains commercial success upon launch, Samsung may expand the platform into additional form factors.
A recent patent filing suggests Samsung is experimenting with robot companion devices focused on emotional connections:
|Orb-like robot with camera, screen and microphone for entertainment purposes
|Cart-shaped robot assistant that can carry objects for users
|Tank tread robot base aimed at outdoor navigation and exploration
For now, the upgraded Ballie 2.0 gives a glimpse at how serious Samsung is about the robotics space in the near future with offerings for the smart home and beyond.
Ballie started years ago as an oddity and proof-of-concept device from Samsung’s C-Lab incubator program. But Samsung’s continued investment indicates they see real mainstream appeal in robot AI companions as technology and AI continue advancing.
With its high-tech upgrades like integrated projection and advanced computer vision now on board, Ballie can support households in even more helpful ways while expressing an endearing personality. As one of the most polished executions of a consumer home robot shown to date, Ballie may soon roll its way into the lives of Samsung customers when it hits the market.
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