If you’ve ever dreamed of having a slender, cat-shaped robot that could help you spy on your friends from the comfort of your own home, believe it or not South Korean roboticists are happy to oblige.
The above video shows us what it’s all about — a tiny flat robot, named Fribo, sits on a tabletop, watching. Two animated eyes emote as Fribo communicates with other Fribos in other houses, alerting you to whatever your friends might be doing, like arriving home, opening their refrigerators, turning on their TVs. Doing the laundry…
…opening their closets.
It’s all a bit weird, to be sure. Created by researchers at Yonsei University and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Fribo is billed as “a robot for people who live alone.”
Its purpose, believe it or not, is to “encourage” social interaction. In fact, according to IEEE Spectrum, the flat cat bot is actually a kind of social networking robot, but all the info it shares (like opening doors, etc.) is anonymous. It’s up to the individuals to reach out.
They can do so by knocking on the table or clapping their hands, as seen in the video. This will cause Fribo to ask questions, and users can then reach out to their friends through an app on their smartphones.
So it’s a bit like Facebook. But it can see you.
That’s not the only robot news coming out of South Korea these days. Several countries are now calling for a ban of “killer robots,” with (coincidentally) KAIST finding itself the target of a boycott due to their partnership with defense manufacturer Hanwha Systems.
It would seem even politicians are wary of the potential downsides of automated defense systems. I can only picture a certain scene (or maybe a few) from Robocop, when humanity’s creations get a little out of our control. It seems almost inevitable.
Granted, that doesn’t have much to do with Fribo the cat bot, here, but you know. Small steps.