Meet Otto, Samsung’s cute personal assistant robot that’s always watching you

samsung otto robot
Say hello to Otto, Samsung’s personal assistant robot that could one day help you control your smart home.

Unveiled this week at the company’s developer conference in San Francisco, Otto was used to show off Samsung’s ARTIK platform that forms the basis of its smart-home push. The diminutive bot’s tricks include the ability to respond to voice commands for connected gadgets like lights and thermostats. It’ll also do things such as answer questions, play music, and tell you the latest news.

Yes, it does sound a lot like Amazon’s Echo speaker-cum-virtual-assistant, doesn’t it.

Unlike Echo, however, Otto has a “face” that houses an HD camera, a feature likely to send a chill down the spine of any privacy-conscious folks who’ve only just come to terms with the idea of Echo’s “always on” microphone.

But rather than a faraway hacker using the camera to monitor your every move inside your own home, its intended function is as a security camera so you can check no one’s burglarizing your house when you’re not there, or simply make sure your hyperactive dog isn’t wrecking the joint when you’re out enjoying yourself with friends.

Facial recognition technology also means Otto has the capacity to remember a user’s individual preferences, helping it to respond more efficiently to various requests and inquiries.

As noted by Engadget, Otto can move its head about too, enabling it to nod and shake in response to yes-or-no questions. That maneuverability of course also gives you more control when checking in remotely, allowing you to turn the camera in multiple directions to catch sight of that intruder you’re convinced is just out of shot.

Besides a camera, Otto’s face also incorporates a digital display for showing off various facial expressions, making the experience more interactive than what you get with Echo. The display can also convey things like weather conditions, with water drops depicting rain, and a sun indicating….er….sunny conditions.

If Otto sounds like the kind of personal assistant robot you’ve been waiting for, then we’re sorry to say the wait’s not actually over. Samsung’s creation is merely a prototype at this stage, though considering its purpose, and the company’s continued push into the Internet of Things, it’s possible Otto, or a more advanced descendant, will one day be offered to consumers as a way of controlling a connected home.

Smart Home

The Google Home Hub doesn’t have a camera. Here’s why that’s a good thing

Bucking the smart display trend, Google's new $149 Home Hub smart display surprisingly doesn't have a camera. We think a camera-less Google smart speaker with a screen is a good thing, and here's why.
Smart Home

Gas dryers vs. electric dryers: Knowing the difference could save you some dough

Whether you buy an electric dryer or a gas dryer may depend solely on your setup, unless you want to spend money to get a gas hookup for your home. But if you have a choice, there are some differences to take into account.
Smart Home

Try IoT before you buy IoT: Google, B8ta let you ‘test drive’ smart home tech

Google has partnered with the startup B8ta to let customers try out smart home technology in a retail space arranged like a real home. This lets customers get a better feel for how the technology works.
Mobile

Pixel 3, Home Hub, and Pixel Slate — our first look at all Google’s new devices

Google has taken the wraps off of a slew of new devices, including the Pixel 3 smartphones, Google Home Hub smart display, Google Pixel Slate tablet, and more. We were at the event, and took a ton of photos of all of Google's new products.
Smart Home

Google Home Mini vs. Amazon Echo Dot: Which is better?

We put the two most popular smart home speakers -- the Google Home Mini and the 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot -- together and tested them on appearance, audio, and abilities. So which should you buy? Find out how they did in our showdown.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

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

How to create spooky Halloween effects with smart home lighting and sound

This Halloween, bathe your home with eerie smart home lighting and audio effects guaranteed to spook your neighbors. Use colored light and eerie sounds to create eerie Halloween effects.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Smart Home

May the force cook with you: New slow cooker sports Star Wars figures

We can't say it will make your pot roast tastier, but Uncanny Brands' $50 Star Wars Slow Cooker, decorated with cartoon figures of Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, and other characters, might make cooking it more fun.
Smart Home

Is your smart home lighting too confusing? Intellect simplifies your controls

Leviton introduced Intellect, a new controls platform for smart home lighting. Intellect is the fifth brand to join Leviton's portfolio, alongside ConTech, Intense, Birchwood, and JCC.
Smart Home

These awesome treehouses will make you question life on solid ground

Check out these truly awesome treehouses from around the world. From a three-story treehouse in the Costa Rican jungle to a mirrored cube hidden among the trees of Sweden, we’ve got you covered.
Smart Home

Nest gets more colorful with three new options for its smart thermostat

Nest Parent company Alphabet announced this week that its Nest Learning Thermostat will soon be made available in three new, fancier colors: Mirror black, brass, and polished steel.