One of the things that makes Google Now and Amazon Echo so useful is the way the technology seeps into your surrounding world and becomes the hub of everything you want to do, but the interactions are still mostly call and response. As clever as the Amazon Echo is, it won't adjust your thermostat simply because you walk into the living room and mention how cold you are. Google Now does a little better with this kind of interaction when looking at the data on your phone or tablet, but still doesn't quite get there in voice interactions.
The folks at AKA claim to have the perfect solution to this interaction gap, and they are calling the little robot designed to facilitate this solution Musio.
Where Google Now and Amazon Echo are largely instruction based, Musio focuses on grabbing context from conversation and applying that information to the world around it. This could be as simple as "remembering" a meal you mentioned enjoying the last time you were in New York and reminding you the next time you are planning a trip, or as complex as automatically dimming the lights when you go to watch a movie. As long as your smart home tech is using Zigbee or Bluetooth to communicate and has an API, Musio will be capable of interacting with it and controlling it for you.
Musio also maintains multiple voice profiles for the household, and over time it will communicate differently with the individual users in the household as it learns from them. This includes an educational component, with learning programs and educational games baked in for kids to interact and explore. There's a pointer wand for a series of storybooks and game mats, so kids can either talk with Musio or include the robot directly in the story, and the experiences during gameplay are remembered and carried into later conversations.
Each version of the robot is running Android 5.0 underneath, with AKA's MUSE software as a conversational AI. AKA plans to release Musio in three different configurations and price points on Indiegogo, offering some flexibility in how capable you want or need your robot to be. The $159 base model offers basic voice companion modes with an 1800mAh battery and can only remember the last five conversations, while the $599 "Genius" Musio is packing a 3,000mAh battery and a Zigbee shield for access to smart home tech.
There's still a lot of questions about how Musio actually works that need to be answered, and it's unlikely there are a lot of adults who would enjoy wandering around the house carrying a robot they are having an honest-to-goodness conversation with, so amazing microphones had better be part of the equation here. As quirky little robots promising to make your life better go, however, Musio is one of the more interesting options to consider.
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