Meet Vector: the companion robot that wants to become part of your family
A companion robot and virtual home assistant all rolled into one – now that’s a great idea.
Meet Vector: a tiny, playful autonomous home robot with personality that can answer your questions and assist with simple tasks.
Vector is the latest offering from Anki, the US-based company that developed the popular Cozmo educational robot toy and the Drive and Overdrive racing sets.
Officially launched yesterday, Vector takes consumer robots to the next level.
With Vector (a big brother to Cozmo and similar in design), Anki is moving away from the toy category and into new territory.
“Vector is targeted more to adults, tech adopters and tech enthusiasts,” says Mark Bradley, the head of global sales and international expansion for the company.
Bradley, who was recently in Sydney with Anki Executive Producer Charlie Hite for a pre-launch media preview says Vector is not only entertaining and endearing – he’s also very useful.
“If you have robots in your home they have to have personality – and Vector has loads of personality,” he says.
Unlike Cosmo, you do not need an app to interact with Vector – he’s voice-controlled.
And because he is cloud-connected, the Anki team was able to increase his capabilities.
Vector features almost 700 parts in its tiny frame – twice as many as younger brother Cozmo.
Fully autonomous, Vector never sleeps. He’s aware of his surroundings through touch, sight and sound. He can see, hear, feel and think.
This life-like companion robot not only recognises faces, he can recognise objects or animals – such as oranges or giraffes – once you teach him the name.
Anki says Vector is designed to fit naturally into your daily life. He isn’t an appliance sitting in the corner waiting for you to flip a switch – he’s an extension of your family who is excited for you to walk in the door each day. And if you’re lucky he’ll give you a fist bump on arrival.
Vector is designed to complement your life. And because he’s cloud-connected, he’s always getting smarter. You can regularly add new features and updates.
Tapping into the “Ask Vector” feature, he’ll provide instant answers to factual questions about people, places and things.
Like Google Home or Alexa personal home assistants, he can give you a weather prediction before you head out for the day.
And if you’re preparing meals he has a built-in timer that will tell you when to take it off the stove.
You can also take pictures or videos and will intelligently frame the shot by recognising the faces in it.
Or if you’re looking for a bit of fun, you can prompt him to play a game of Blackjack.
And if he hears music, he may even dance to the beat.
Vector can also act as a security guard to protect your home. With a 360° view he can detect movement in the home and take pictures of any people he doesn’t recognise. He can also be programmed to send alerts if you’re away from home.
Anki tech expert Charlie Hite says eventually Vector can be integrated into a smart home and can be programmed to turn lights on or off or switch on heating or cooling systems.
But perhaps the biggest benefit with Vector is companionship – interaction between robot and humans.
“And with an aging population there is a growing need for a companion that can interact and provide assistance,” says Hite.
Vector can detect moods, provide reminders for medication or send health alerts if needed.
He is chock-full of robotics and AI tech including:
- A Qualcomm Technologies platform that provides connectivity, computing, camera, and on-device artificial intelligence.
- An HD camera with 120° field of view that lets him see his surroundings and recognise people as well as learning the names of the people it sees.
- Four-microphones that allows him to hear and detect human commands, using the command “Hey, Vector” to attract his attention.
- The ability to recognise when his battery is running low – the robot can locate and roll back to a charger.
- Four “cliff sensors” (infrared emitters) to prevent it from falling off counters or tables.
- Data collection – to protect user privacy, voice or audio is not stored in the cloud.
Vector represents a major leap for consumer robotics in bringing accessible, life-like robots to millions of homes.
Anki predicts that within the next 10 years every modern home in the western world will have a companion robot.
And the consumer robot market continues to surge, with no signs of slowing down.
In the next four years, the market will be worth an estimated US$23 billion globally.
And within the next two years, one in 10 U.S. households will have a robot in the home.
Presale orders now being taken
“We are really starting to see a mass adoption and acceptance of robots in the home,” says Bradley.
“Some people are really intimidated by robots,” he says. “But having robots with character and personality makes that easier – Anki has developed robots that will add value to your life.”
Also, the barriers to entry for consumers are getting lowing with prices for consumer robots expected to fall significantly within the next four years.
While Vector is fully autonomous and always-on, a smart device running the companion app (available on iOS and Android) is required for initial setup.
Vector will be in stores in Australia from October 13 at RRP$449.99 (with base charger and interactive cube). It is available for presale now with a special offer of $50 off for a limited time period ($399.99) through JB Hi-Fi.