It’s 2020, and the evolution of consumer tech is more exciting than ever. At CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Samsung unveiled something altogether different: Ballie, a “personalised companion that understands and supports you, your family—even your pets”.
Putting aside the initial fears of robots taking over and whatnot, Ballie actually looks pretty unimposing. As per its name, Ballie is… a ball, and rolls around in a manner reminiscent of BB-8 from Star Wars.
To understand what Ballie is, first, you have to understand that Samsung also announced the “Age of Experience” at CES, with Samsung Consumer Electronics President and CEO, H.S. Kim, explaining during his keynote speech that the upcoming decade will see a new era of technology that’s defined by tech that meets users’ personal needs.
Kim referred to Samsung’s robots as “life companions ” while introducing Ballie—make of that what you will. Essentially, Ballie is an AI-powered robot that is designed for the “Age of Experience”, and it will use AI to understand you, and to be actively helpful around the house.
On-Device AI capabilities allow for it to be a fitness assistant, as well as a mobile (hence, the rolling around) interface that “seeks solutions” for users’ personal needs.
In the video above, Ballie seemingly uses a camera to follow the user around the house, while it attends to her various personal needs—including drawing the curtains in the morning, selecting suitable morning music, and even turning on a TV programme for her dog while she’s at work.
What’s interesting is that Samsung sees “on-device AI” to be a crucial element of balancing personalised experiences and protecting the information and privacy of users. According to Sebastian Seung, Executive Vice President and Chief Research Scientist at Samsung Electronics:
“We believe AI is the future of personalized care. We see on-device AI as central to truly personalized experiences. On-device AI puts you in control of your information and protects your privacy, while still delivering the power of personalization.”
It’s all pretty interesting, but it’s worth noting that your home will need to be decked out in Smart Home and IoT gadgets before Ballie will be able to work. That’s where Samsung’s “Age of Experience” comes in, though—IoT devices collaborating to create personalised experiences.
There’s just one thing that I can’t understand from the video above. How is it possible that a yellow robot ball is rolling around right in front of a dog, and the scene doesn’t turn into a frantic depiction of Dog versus Ballie? A missed opportunity, Samsung.