Samsung's Ballie Robot is More Like R2-D2 Than Ever Thanks to a Built-In Projector
What's a cute robot companion without some AI and a projector?
Just when you thought Ballie was banished, Samsung is pulling its robot companion back in.
The next iteration of the rolling robot is being introduced the same way it was announced in 2020 — adorably, on the CES keynote stage.
It’s AI, Duh
To no one’s surprise, 2024’s Ballie integrates AI pretty heavily. That means a few things, but one of the biggest is that you’ll be able to chat with your spheroid robot assistant on your phone and vice versa. A demo shows how you can query Ballie, asking it to do certain chores like check up on your pet.
Alternatively, Ballie might even let you know what it’s up to on its own, unprompted. What a courteous robot. Or annoying! Hard to say, really.
Probably the most exciting feature, however, is that there’s now an integrated 1080p projector inside Ballie. That means you could theoretically use it for video calls or, again, entertaining your pets while you’re at work. And yes, that does give Ballie some serious R2-D2 vibes, or I guess more accurately, BB-8.
If you were hoping for a live demo on the CES keynote stage, unfortunately, your prayers have gone unanswered. The best we can give you is this video demonstration, which is still fun to watch if maybe not entirely illuminating on what Ballie can do IRL.
Okay, so I feel as though I owe Samsung and Ballie a small apology. I was recently hard on the little fella in a post last week. The slight below:
Samsung’s Ballie is presumably getting layoff drunk at the robo-bar with Astro as we speak. For the uninitiated, Ballie was an aptly named little sphere that Samsung designed to fill a similar purpose, though with a bit more companionship in mind. Some people want a little Shih Tzu afoot, nipping at their heels and begging for bacon scraps. Samsung thought other people wanted a grapefruit-sized robot ball.
As far as I know, the big difference here is that people are still buying Shih Tzus.
I stand by the fact that at-home robots haven’t earned the right to be called anything but a pipe dream, but that being said, Ballie does seem kind of cool. Unnecessary in almost every way, but still kind of cool.
Do I expect to see a Ballie in every home, projecting video calls and workout videos and keeping constant tabs on your mischievous dog? Definitely not, but as far as silly robots go, Samsung’s does a decent job of balancing cute and useful.
So this is my challenge to Samsung: prove me wrong. Make Ballie the home-improving bot we’ve been waiting for. Actually ship it this time.
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