The iPal is a cute robot companion for the young and old alike

Robots are a contentious topic these days. Some people worry about their capacity to erase jobs (or even humanity), others view them as the latest tool in mankind’s quest to make life and labor easier. The iPal will surely appeal to proponents of the latter view. It’s an adorable, childlike robot built to aid some of the most vulnerable members of society: children and the elderly.

At CES 2018, Digital Trends spoke to John Ostrem, co-founder of Avatarmind, the company behind the iPal, in order to understand what lies behind its cute facade. “It’s a fully functional, humanoid robot with lots of sensors, features, and a number of applications that we’re focusing on,” Ostrem said. The priorities for Avatarmind are children, elder care, and retail operations. The robot runs Android, and users can install apps to customize iPal for their uses.

Standing three-and-a-half-feet tall and made of round shapes, touched with pastel colors, the iPal has a friendly appearance that’s perfect for appealing to kids. Parents can outfit the robot with apps that allow it to teach children, or entertain them with song and dance. The iPal is equipped with a camera, and parents can operate it remotely, checking in on their kids and controlling the robot’s movements.

The iPal can also be useful for helping the elderly, providing companionship and security alerts in case of emergencies. Consumers in the United States can currently buy a developer model, with a consumer version slated for mid-2018.