Most of the world’s robots are about as charismatic as a coffeemaker. Not so Cynthia Breazeal’s creations. There’s Huggable, a robot teddy bear, and Kismet, a babbler with big eyes, red lips, and pointy ears. Nexi is baby-faced and blue-eyed, and Leonardo has been described variously as a squirrel, a furry alien, and a giant Furby.
After years of making emotionally engaging machines with her students at the MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, Breazeal thinks the time has finally come for a personal robot to inhabit our homes and help us live our lives. To pursue that goal, she founded Jibo, a Boston startup that has raised US $38.6 million to produce a friendly robo-assistant to families.