Meet Temi, the Tablet-Faced Robot Assistant Built for Video-Chats

Monday, 28 August 2017 - 10:01AM
Technology
Gadgets
Robotics
Monday, 28 August 2017 - 10:01AM
Meet Temi, the Tablet-Faced Robot Assistant Built for Video-Chats
Image credit: Roboteam
The biggest problem with Skyping from your phone or tablet is that you constantly have to hold the device in order to make the best use of it. This is especially true when trying to, say, give your parents a good look at their squirmy toddler grandchild, or showing off your adorable dog to your long-distance crush while cooking dinner. There's no easy hands-free videochat solution that allows you to multitask, and it can be a real pain.

Enter Temi, which was originally designed as a solution to these problems. Essentially a smart tablet on wheels, this pint-sized robot was designed by a military robotics company as a remote camera operator for videophone chats, but thanks to its developer-friendly Android operating system, it's likely to become a whole lot more as users discover how to tailor it to their needs.

Temi was created by Roboteam, who are used to creating all-terrain bots that are capable of navigating sensitive areas while avoiding hazards. Naturally, this experience lent itself well to creating a robot for home use, allowing Temi to slip effortlessly between chew toys, dolls, and tables to help provide remote assistance for any occasion. Temi is also equipped with Google Assistant functionality, so it's easy to ask the robot search engine questions while it's eagerly following you around your home.



Where this robot really shines, though, is not in what it's currently programmed for, but what it could be. The robot is Android-based, and Roboteam plan to make its programming software available to developers, so that with any luck, we should see a whole host of new tricks added to this machine's repertoire over time.

This kind of flexibility is where modern robots really shine. Temi is not unlike the HEXA spider in terms of reprogrammability, albeit with a skillset that's a lot more useful for home life. Opening up these kinds of robots for experimentation and reprogramming means that where their original creators might not have come up with all possible uses for the machines, a wider pool of programmers can help fill in the blanks.

That said, Temi does seem to have some drawbacks. It's permanently attached to the floor, and stands at only three feet tall. For casual home use, a more accessible robot assistant would probably take the form of a drone that can hover beside its owner at all times, although Temi does, presumably, last longer before running out of battery as a result.

Temi has also been deliberately designed to look as utilitarian as possible (the designers made a point about not giving it a recognizable face), which, while deliberate, feels like a misunderstanding of what people want from household robots—the cuter and friendlier they look, the more comfortable we'll feel in letting them into our lives (it also helps if they look like dinosaurs).

This pint-sized tablet on wheels does seem like a step in the right direction for home robots, though. Here's hoping that with some ingenuity from creative developers, this new robot assistant could help find a niche in modern life that extends beyond giving Skype users a good look at each other's crotches.
Science
Science News
Technology
Gadgets
Robotics
No