Skip to main content

Olly, a personality-laden robot assistant, is available on Indiegogo

Indiegogo Final Video
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 artificial intelligence 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 on 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.

Clearly, this level of personalization has captured the imagination of 21st-century denizens, as Olly has already raised nearly $30,000 a few hours into its Indiegogo campaign. It still has a month left to reach its crowdfunding goal of $100,000, which seems quite doable given initial success.

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.

Be warned, however, that Olly isn’t a cheap companion. If you order as a super early bird on Indiegogo, you’ll be able to snag the bot for $449, which is 35 percent off the retail price of $699. Still, that’s a pretty penny to pay for a smart speaker that, while seemingly capable of more than other similar products on the market, is significantly more expensive, too. In any case, if you’re in search of a more personable smart assistant experience, Olly just may be the guy for you. Shipment is expected in May 2018.

Update: Olly is now available for pre-order on Indiegogo. 

Editors' Recommendations

Nick Hastings
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nick is a Portland native and a graduate of Saint Mary's College of California with a Bachelor's of Communication. Nick's…
Don’t believe the marketing! Robot chefs aren’t what you think they are
mckinsey automation job change replacement robotics moley robot chef hands screen

There's nothing more disappointing than misleading marketing. You purchased a bottle of the hottest hot sauce because, based on its advertising, you expect it to numb all your senses, only to discover it barely passes as Taco Bell's mild sauce. Maybe you ran out to buy a "wearable air conditioner" because you're sick of sweating through your outdoor workout garb, but find out too late that you invested in nothing more than a glorified cooling neckband.

While I'm no expert on the fine-printed inner workings of the marketing world, I think we can all agree that one of the main goals of any type of marketing, regardless of the brand, service, or event, is to generate awareness and hype. This is more than understandable, as companies should want to lasso in prospective buyers with alluring lingo. But sometimes the hype train is a bit overloaded and can derail expectations when consumers like you and me finally get our hands on the goods or services being hailed.

Read more
Amazon Alexa: A complete guide to using the voice assistant
Amazon Echo Show 10 angled on desk.

By now, you know Alexa as the ubiquitous digital assistant attached to Amazon’s lineup of smart speakers, screens, and home products. You’ve no doubt heard the name plenty, but when it comes to what exactly it can do in your home, that may be more of a mystery. If you’re ready to enter the world of home automation, save time, and streamline some of your day-to-day tasks, let’s get to know how to use Alexa.
What is Alexa?
Alexa is a virtual assistant created by Amazon. Put simply, Alexa is an artificial intelligence (A.I.) service that you can interact with by using various devices or through an app on your phone.
How can I access Alexa?
Alexa can be found on devices like Amazon’s Echo line of speakers and their video screen version, the Echo Show. Amazon is also constantly expanding its line of devices. For example, Echo Auto brings Alexa to your car, Echo Frames are built into glasses, and there are also Echo Buds earbuds.

There are also non-Amazon devices that work with Alexa. Devices like the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat, iHome’s AVS16 Alarm Clock, LG’s Smart Instaview Refrigerator, and the Sonos One speaker are all Alexa-enabled. You can also read about the best Alexa-enabled devices here.

Read more
6 annoying things that smart speakers do and how to fix them
homepod mini comparison homepod google home amazon dot 2

When it comes to running your smart home, you're going to need some kind of hub device to interact with all of the web-connected gear in and around your domicile. A hub can be anything from a smart speaker or display to an app installed on your preferred mobile device. While it's convenient to be able to just grab your phone, open the Alexa app, and remotely lock/unlock your door when leaving and arriving, nothing beats the convenience of executing voice commands to your smart ecosystem through a dedicated speaker like the Amazon Echo, Google Nest Audio, or Apple HomePod.

While smart speakers can do everything from playing your favorite music to controlling the smart lights and locks in your home, they're not bulletproof in terms of operation. Like most things tech, you're bound to run into some bumps, glitches, and more general issues when using the smart speakers in your home.

Read more