These days, wireless speakers that double as personal assistants are all the rage. A crowded field that includes Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s … uh … Assistant failed to discourage U.K.-based robotics startup Emotech, which believes it has a worthy challenger.
Enter Olly, a doughnut-shaped AI capable of constructing a personality based upon its interactions with its owner. Olly’s responsibilities are strikingly similar to those shouldered by his competition — the toroidal fellow can sync with a host of smart home technologies, as well as provide answers to simple questions like “Where can I get Chinese takeout nearby?” and “What will the weather be like tomorrow?”
What sets Olly — winner of four 2017 CES Innovation awards — apart is his ability to learn based upon his owners’ interests and daily routines, as well as analyze vocal patterns and adjust accordingly. Olly will offer follow-up information and even suggestions based on recent interactions you’ve had with him, and he’ll learn to predict behaviors to do stuff like turning on your favorite song each morning as you’re getting ready for the day.
Even though he’s tethered to a power cable and a base, Olly’s an active guy. The donut-looking part will rise off its base during interactions, and swivel to face the source of your voice. The multicolored lights on Olly’s face will change accordingly as he speaks, helping to personify the robot’s otherwise basic aesthetic.
It’s unclear when Olly will hit the shelves (and the warehouses); the bot received a significant makeover in the months prior to CES, and Emotech hasn’t hinted at a specific release date. The company did let on, however, that they expect the little guy to appear sometime in 2017, so keep your eyes open and your fingers crossed. For now, check out the official website here.