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

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. 

Smart Home

Whatever happened to those dumb smart products we wrote about in 2017?

A smart salt dispenser? As manufacturers rush to get the next new smart item out there, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. Here’s a list of 10 of the quirkiest home smart gadgets available, and where they are now.
Computing

After fourth attack, hacker puts personal records of 26M people up for sale

A serial hacker going by the name of Gnosticplayers is selling the personal data of 26 million people who have been using the services of six different companies from across the world.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for April 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Outdoors

Hyperlite’s new 2-person tent weighs slightly more than two bags of marshmallows

Hyperlite Mountain Gear took the wraps off its new ultralight Dirigo 2 tent. Weighing only 28 ounces, the Dirigo 2 is the company's first self-contained, three-season, two-person shelter.
Emerging Tech

Eat up! This robot is built to feed dinner to people who can’t feed themselves

Engineers have developed a robot that can feed people dinner. Powered by an artificial intelligence algorithm, the system detects pieces of food on a plate, stabs them with a fork, and transports the morsels to a person’s mouth.
Smart Home

Ikea isn’t throwing shade with the delayed release of its smart blinds

Ikea planned to release is Tradfri-compatible smart blinds in April 2019, but the products have been delayed until later in the year for a firmware update that promises better functionality.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Lutron’s Fan Control makes ceiling fans smart, but has some turnoffs

Lutron recently came out with a smart switch that controls ceiling fans, the Lutron Caseta Fan Speed Control Switch. How does it stack up? Here's a first-hand review of the Lutron Fan Control switch.
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Smart Home

Traeger’s latest wood-pellet grills are smoky, smart, and spacious

Traeger is famous in the world of barbecue and heavy-duty grills for its signature pellet grills and now the company is expanding this year by adding three new brands of redesigned
Smart Home

The five best teeth-whitening kits you can buy on Amazon

Teeth whitening can have a major impact on a person’s smile and overall appearance. You don't necessarily have to go to the dentist to get your teeth whitened though. Here are the best teeth-whitening kits you can buy.
Smart Home

Is your Keurig making gross coffee? Might be time for a cleaning

No one likes a dirty, scaled, or smelly Keurig, but how are you supposed to clean them? Before you throw yours out the window, here is a quick guide on cleaning your machine out thoroughly.
Smart Home

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

Amazon Echo vs. Dot: Having Alexa answer your questions is nothing short of futuristic, but which device should you get? There are some big differences between the two, especially in size, sound, and cost.
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.