Skip to main content

Fribo is a cat-like robot that tells your friends what’s going on in your home

Fribo: A Robot for People Who Live Alone

Whether it’s Apple’s HomePod, Google’s Google Home or Amazon’s Echo, you can’t throw a rock in 2018 without hitting a tech giant that is jumping on the smart artificial intelligence assistant bandwagon. A new project created by roboticists in South Korea adds a slightly different twist to the smart speaker concept, however, through a constantly listening robot that is designed to help us stave off loneliness.

Called Fribo, the cat-looking robot device works by listening to the sounds in your home, and then figuring out what you are doing using A.I. Once it knows this, it will then pass this information on to friends in your social circle in the hopes that it triggers an interaction.

For example, if it hears you opening your fridge door, your buddy could receive a message alerting them to this fact, and pondering “which food your friend is going to have?” That may sound a bit creepy, but the hope is that these kinds of prompts could cause people to communicate more. (Even if we might personally feel a bit alarmed if a friend we hadn’t heard from for a while called up to ask why we’ve opened the fridge at 10 p.m. on a Friday night!)

“The primary function of Fribo is to share the daily activities to alleviate isolated feeling and loneliness that one experiences while living at home alone,” the researchers noted in a paper about the project.

Fribo isn’t the only example we’ve come across of smart assistants which aim to promote social interactions. Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ, for instance, is designed with the elderly in mind. Like a mix of the Amazon Echo and a robotic version of the animated Pixar mascot, ElliQ uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to both offer limited robo-companionship, and also to suggest that owners reach out to friends and family regularly.

At this stage, it’s not clear whether Fribo will make it to market. The researchers suggest a long-term study, which would test the technology on users around the world. While we’re not sure that this is a solution everyone would be happy with, we do think that the researchers are asking the right questions about the isolating effects of technology and modern life.

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Tom Hanks warns of AI-generated ad using his likeness
Tom Hanks' message on Instagram warning about an AI-generated ad that uses his likeness.

Tom Hanks has warned his fans not to be fooled by a video ad circulating online that appears to show him endorsing a dental plan.

The ad has apparently been created using an artificial intelligence-powered tool that's able to mimic his voice and closely match his lip movements to his spoken words.

Read more
Amazon Astro: everything you need to know about this home robot
Amazon Astro following a person through a door.

Amazon Astro came as a surprise when it was revealed in September 2021. The quirky device does a little bit of everything, serving as a robot companion that boasts facial recognition, impressive navigation skills, and tons of useful home security features.

But a lot has changed with Astro since it was first announced, and it's gotten some new competition in the form of EBO X. Here’s a look at everything we know about Astro, including how you can get your hands on it and add it to your home.
Designed to rove around the home

Read more
SwitchBot S10 robot vacuum connects to your plumbing for fully automated mopping
The SwitchBot S10 on a white background.

IFA 2023, an annual consumer electronics show, has been filled with impressive smart home reveals, but when it comes to automated floor cleaners, few products on display were as innovative as the SwitchBot S10. Like existing robot vacuums and mops, the S10 is capable of vacuuming and mopping your floor without any manual input. The big difference, however, is the SwitchBot Floor Cleaning Robot S10 hooks up to your plumbing to perform automated water changes.

That makes the S10 the first auto-refilling and auto-draining robot mop available to the public -- which should make it an impressive rival for the Roborock S8 Pro Ultra and Ecovacs Deebot T20 Omni. SwitchBot notes that the S10 supports most existing plumbing systems, and after you’ve connected the dock to your water line and drainage pipe, all you’ll need to do is empty its dustbin every 70 days.

Read more