This year's Consumer Electronics Show was a coming out party for the bots. Sony had a new version of its Aibo dog, Honda had its line of mobility robots, and yet the robot with the most buzz on the show floor was a funny little thing from LG called CLOi (pronounced like "chloe"—KLOH-ee).
Ever wish you had a clone to help you out around the house? CLOi may be as close as we get. Bearing a very close resemblance to Eve of WALL-E, this voice-enabled robot is designed to step in and help you manage all the appliances around your home.
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A Practical, Everyday AI
The scenarios and possibilities demoed at the booth weren't the dystopian sci-fi examples you'd expect from an artificial intelligence robot. CLOi's expertise is in practical solutions that make everyday life easier.
Wondering what to cook for dinner? CLOi can smartly suggest recipes based on what's available in your fridge. And once you pick one — let's say a Baked Greek Omelet — CLOi can preheat the oven and adjust your dishwasher to a heavy duty cycle for cleaning the ceramic baking dish after.
CLOi also can integrate with your calendar and set your washer to a sports cycle wash after a scheduled soccer practice, or schedule a vacuum cleaning before your family gathering.
What's On the Mark
CLOi is super cute. The form factor and interface may be the best of all the robots I saw at the conference. Having an LED screen for a "face" allows CLOi to make facial expressions that provide connection and spark a joy of use. The screen also makes CLOi very versatile — it can show videos for recipes, and also be outfitted with a beak to resemble a duck that your kids might enjoy talking to (so she's a babysitter too!).
If you were surprised at the delight you had while watching WALL-E (the Pixar film noted for having almost zero human character screen time), you'll see the potential this robot could provide in the realm of social companionship around the home as well.
What Needs Refinement
CLOi was noted for failing to respond at a couple live demos at CES. The delightful expressions mentioned above were replaced with blank stares at the robot's big reveal when CLOi was asked to "find recipes for chicken." That said, the potential of the CLOi technology — and the integration it provides to LG's overall ecosystem of appliances — means the LG engineering team will be working under even more scrutiny as it readies the device for launch later this year.