BB-8, roll aside, for we have here a new, IRL spherical robot from Samsung—and this one makes cute little beeping sounds, too. The little ball of electronics goes by “Ballie” and apparently its aim is to be both a user’s pet and their own personal Alfred.
Samsung’s teaser clip showing off Ballie’s capabilities.
Recently revealed at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Ballie is an example of Samsung’s “human-centric vision of robots,” which the company says “takes personalized care to the next level.” In the teaser clip showing off what Ballie can do (above), we see it perform various tasks via bluetooth commands (probably), including: opening the shades, activating a wake-up alarm, filming people so they can see themselves in real time, entertaining the dog, and ordering an autonomous vacuum to clean up a spill.
During Samsung’s demonstration at CES (below), Ballie rolled itself onto the stage, and followed Samsung Consumer Electronics President and CEO H.S. Kim around for about two minutes. Ballie’s introduction was a subsection of Samsung’s overall electronics presentation, which it referred to as the “Age of Experience,” and promoted “a decade of human-centric innovation.”
A closeup of Ballie.
According to Samsung Newsroom, Ballie is “a small, rolling robot that understands you, supports you, and reacts to your needs to be actively helpful around the house.” And while there isn’t too much information regarding technical details currently available, Samsung does say that Ballie uses “on-device AI.” This isn’t a surprise considering the fact that neural networks are making their way into countless IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and are required for capabilities that Ballie promises to have.
Samsung says that even though Ballie will be AI-powered, and capable of seeking “solutions for people’s changing needs,” it won’t affect their privacy standards. Obviously it’s difficult to say whether this will be true or not once the Ballies roll out to the masses, but there’s no question they’ll be hackable and full of their owners’ personal information. (Perhaps Ballie will have some kind of self-destruct feature?)
— Sun Ray (@sunsarray) January 7, 2020
There are no details regarding what Ballie will retail for, or when it will be released, but a cursory glance at twitter’s reaction to the rolling smart gadget seems to suggest possible demand. It’s hard to say how capable Ballie’s tech is at this point though, as it’s only been shown following Kim around while keeping its distance. But it’s undeniably cute, and maybe it can Babu Frik its way into people’s homes, where it can tamper with things and kind of make them work.
What do you think about Ballie? If it retails for a reasonable price, would you buy this little, rolling robot, or do you think the privacy concerns outweigh the possibility of increased convenience? Let us know your opinions in the comments before Ballie takes over that function too!