Lego Boost combines old-school plastic bricks with electronics that let you build any of five moving Lego-bots. Frankie the Cat purrs, plays the harmonica, and doesn't scratch the furniture, which arguably makes it cuter than a real cat. $160
Every year, tech companies unleash their latest and greatest gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Some of it is impressive, some of it is stupid, and most of it is not very cuddly. But with the rise of A.I. assistants and social robots, a few new products stood out as things we might want to hug.
More lovable than Alexa
Like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, Kuri can respond to voice commands to play music or control your smart home devices. It also has “emotive eyes and a friendly disposition.” It’s almost enough to make you forget that Kuri will roam around your house with a microphone that’s always on, awaiting your voice commands. $700.
Arlo Baby lets you dress up your baby camera in bunny, cat, or Dalmation ears. Like other smart monitors, the camera will alert you whenever your child moves or cries, while built-in speakers let you talk to your kid remotely. This is probably as cute as home surveillance can get. $250 for the camera, $20 for the cute costume.
This light-up, vibrating, talking ball is designed to help kids with autism and other special needs. It plays games that teach social, emotional, cognitive, and motor skills. $490 pre-order on Indiegogo.
Lego Boost combines old-school plastic bricks with electronics that let you build any of five moving Lego-bots. Frankie the Cat purrs, plays the harmonica, and doesn’t scratch the furniture, which arguably makes it cuter than a real cat. $160.
Mykie is a voice-controlled “kitchen elf” that can pull up recipes for you or tell you how long until the pot roast is done. And of course, its eyes make it appear friendly and sentient. Not currently on sale.
Another roundish white computer with eyes
Noticing any trends here? IEEE Spectrum explains why all these robotic home assistants look the same. The LG Hub is powered by the same software that runs Amazon’s Alexa, and has the additional advantage of being able to control the various LG smart home devices the makers are hoping you will buy. We’ll have to wait and see whether this thing can outcompete its nearly identical, adorable foes. Not currently on sale.