If having a friendly little robot wander around your house, chirpily keeping everyone’s spirits up, makes you excited for the future; the wait is almost over. A company named UBTech has started a crowd-funding campaign for a ‘bot it calls Alpha 2, and should it be successful, the plan is to have the robot in homes early next year.
Before we all get too excited, this isn’t C-3PO. It’s not even Buddy the house robot. Alpha 2 is pretty small, standing around 17-inches high, so there’s a good chance you’ll step on him in a dark room. It’ll probably hurt too, thanks to his humanoid shape and combination of aluminum alloy and ABS plastic body.
He’s quite a lot like your smartphone, only capable of moving around. Alpha 2 can talk, so he provides reminders about your day, takes you through instruction guides, reads stories to your kids, and warns you if it’ll rain later when you’re heading out. Beyond this, his range of movement makes him a good yoga teacher (yes, really), and he has a camera to take happy snaps of everyone having fun.
We mentioned Alpha 2’s a bit like a phone? He can make calls, send emails and messages, make posts to social networks, and link up to other Wi-Fi devices in your home. He’s even powered by a smartphone processor — Samsung’s hexa-core Exynos 5260, seen in the Galaxy Note 3 Neo — has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and an Android 4.4 operating system.
Alpha 2 sounds like fun, but he’s not without drawbacks. First, he’s expensive at $500 if you catch the early bird offer, or $600 if you miss out. Second, the company mentions an app store specific to Alpha 2, where special apps will be sold to enhance its functionality, so expect to pay more over time. Finally, the battery is small, and may only keep Alpha 2 up and about for an hour before he needs recharging. That’s not good.
If you’re not put off by the downsides, you can support Alpha 2’s campaign on Indiegogo here, where he’s part way towards a $100,000 goal. Deliveries, should it all go according to plan, will begin in February 2016.