There were some familiar “faces” at CES this year, as robotic helpers and home companions returned to show off new skills and capabilities.

At Samsung’s keynote, cheers met the unveiling of Ballie, a basketball-shaped smart home robot that originally made its CES debut in 2020. Ballie is back with new features, including an on-board projector for casting impromptu workout videos or entertaining clips to keep pets company. According to its promo video, Ballie will trundle around the home and connect to appliances to efficiently managing tasks, like switching on lights, feeding pets or sending security updates to its owner. In contrast to previous iterations, the new improved Ballie offers on device AI, for enhanced privacy.

Locally processed data is also a key feature of the new and improved ElliQ by Intuition Robotics. The tabletop companion for elders that provides support and enrichment made a comeback following several years of beta testing and an official launch in 2022. Thanks to upgraded hardware and AI enhancements including generative AI, ElliQ 3.0 can sustain free-flowing conversation, and builds a relationship with its owner over time, remembering and reflecting on shared conversations. Facilitating real-world connections is also a goal, whether via the extended community of ElliQ users, or in the neighbourhood.

Moxie, a companion robot which offers educational and emotional support to kids, returned as Moxie AI, also boasting improved conversational skills, memory and personalization thanks to AI enhancements from large language models (LLMs), automatic speech recognition and face recognition. The device by Embodied Inc, that is backed by Amazon’s Alexa Fund and will go on sale in 2024 for $799.

The leaps in development made possible by advances in robotics and AI, coupled with signs of a growing commitment to smart home interoperability from manufacturers at CES this year could mean that these cute and clever home robots finally make it from concept to reality.

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