Asus pulled a rabbit out of the hat at its pre-Computex press conference, showing off its first venture into robotics with the ever-so-cute Zenbo.
The diminutive household robot joined Johnny Shih, Asus' chairman, onstage and made quite the impression with its cutsey facial expressions and big blue eyes.
Zenbo is touted as an all-round household helper: it can play games with the kids, find recipes online and read them out while you cook, and it can keep tabs on grandpa too - it will send an emergency alarm out to relevant smartphones if an accident befalls him.
Zenbo then uses its camera to allow real-time communication between the injured party and those concerned.
Asus Zebo: Voice control
The robot helper also aids the elderly in that the voice command function removes any difficulty with faffing around with the user interface. Simply ask and Zenbo can help make calls, order things online, engage on social media, and so on.
Asus also highlighted the educational opportunities for kids, with interactive games and stories built in.
There is a suggestion that Zenbo can dance, although we didn’t get to see that live. Onstage and in the promo video shown, it appeared that Zenbo responded to voice commands initiated with “Hey, Zenbo!” and merrily chatted back.
Want the lights dimming? Ask Zenbo. Want to see who’s at the door? Ask Zenbo. It can unlock the door, too. Got a question that’s bugging you? Zenbo can check with the built-in interactive encyclopaedia. Want to check up on what’s going on at home while you are out and about? Access Zenbo’s camera through your smart phone. Can’t be bothered reading the kids a bedtime story? Zenbo can take care of that too.
Asus Zenbo: Price and release date
While the on-stage demo looked great, we suspect Zenbo is still a prototype that was being run via remote control - a suspicion reinforced by the lack of access to Zenbo after the conference.
Overall, the presentation was heavy on potential but light on specifics. There were many uses shown but not much explanation of how. For example, Zenbo apparently knows which family member to remind to take their medicine or keep their appointment. Also, access to such information is controlled and given to the appropriate person.
Asus announced a price of $599 (£411) but no release date as yet. If you’re keen to have your very own home spy assistant, you should keep an eye on zenbo.asus.com.