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.
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