ASUS Reveals Zenbo, the Mildly Irritating Companion Robot

Here we have the tragic tale of a family. A family who, with the best of intentions, purchased a robot meant to provide entertainment and companionship. But in the end, they would find only mild convenience and a high-pitched robotic voice that would ultimately tear their family apart.

Last week, during a press event at the Computex Taipei computer expo, ASUS revealed the world’s latest awkward robotic helper, Zenbo. This robot, shaped like a volleyball with a computer monitor stuck on top, is described by ASUS as a “smart little companion” that can do all sorts of things – play music, read recipes, tell children’s stories, make video calls. It sounds good on paper, but in action, well…

The above video is a short film by ASUS that shows off a little of what Zenbo can do. It’s interesting in a weird way, and creepy in others (Zenbo watches, almost happily, as the grandfather falls, while Clair de Lune plays in the background). But I’m just not sure we’re ready for home robots, yet.

We seem to be in this awkward phase where we have the technology to make things that look and move like the robots we’d want, but lack the true artificial intelligence to do anything particularly useful.

What we see Zenbo do here can easily be accomplished by smartphones and other voice-activated devices, sans Zenbo’s, let’s say, unique voice.

He also costs a cool $599.

Well, we’re a long way off from our C-3PO and R2D2. But we have to start somewhere, and for now robots like Zenbo are all we’ve got.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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