Computex: Asus unveils Zenbo, a cute robot for the home priced at $599

The Zenfone maker said it wants to enable 'robotic computing for every household'

Asus has just unveiled what’s likely to be the most talked about product at this week’s Computex trade show in Taipei, a cute talking robot for the home priced at US$599.

Called Zenbo, Asus pitched it as a personal assistant that can help look after elderly relatives or read stories to the kids, but that might be selling it a bit short.

The robot is about two feet high and rolls around on wheels, with a display that can show its animated face or be used for other things like making video calls and streaming movies.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih demonstrated Zenbo at a press conference in Taipei Monday, giving it voice commands and asking it questions is it rolled around the stage.

“Hey Zenbo, is it true you can take pictures”? he asked.

“Yes, I can take photographs,” the robot replied.

He told Zenbo to take his photo with the audience in the background. Shih positioned himself on stage and Zenbo trundled over and took his picture. It was an impressive demonstration, assuming the Zenbo wasn’t being remotely controlled somehow from backstage.

Zenbo James Niccolai

There was no word when Zenbo will go on sale and a spokesman said Asus doesn’t yet have a ship date. It wants developers to sign up for a software kit that will let them build applications for it.

But Zenbo appears to be able to do quite a lot already.

A big part of the pitch is caring for the elderly, which could be especially popular in nearby Japan, which is struggling with an aging population. Zenbo "helps to bridge the digital divide between generations" by allowing seniors to make video calls and use social networking with simple voice commands, Asus said.

It can also connect to a smart bracelet and alert relatives via smartphone app if their elderly relative has a fall.

It’s not something other robots haven’t done before, but it’s impressive that Asus will offer those capabilities for the price of a PC.

For kids, Zenbo can read them stories, show videos and play interactive games.

It’s tempting to think of Zenbo as an Amazon Echo or Siri on wheels, though it’s unclear if it will be as smart as those other digital assistants. It does attempt to answer general knowledge questions, though.

“Hey Zenbo, who is smarter, Leonardo Da Vinci or Albert Einstein?” Shih asked at one point.

“I’m sorry, I do not know the answer, but I will continue to work on my knowledge,” Zenbo said.

It will also be able to dim the lights, turn off the TV and control other household appliances, according to Shih, though he didn’t say what technology standards it supports or how it will do that.

In fact, Asus provided almost no technical details about the robot. After the demonstration, Shih was joined briefly by an Intel executive, suggesting Intel may have had a hand in its development.

“For decades, humans have dreamed of owning such a companion: one that is smart, dear to our hearts, and always at our disposal," Shih said. "Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household.”

You can read more about Zenbo and watch a video of it in action here.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags computexrobotsasus

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?