Big-I: Robot Butler Or Smart Bin?

Big-I: Robot Butler Or Smart Bin?

First came Jibo, then the Asus Zenbo and now another creepy robot wants to invade the smart home of the future – and it’s called Big-I. While it’s hard not to make a comparison to Big Brother, the eye that is always watching, Big-I has been designed as a personal robot that can help control technology around the smart home and help users live a more fulfilling life.

Designed to resemble a rubbish bin you would typically find in a kitchen, Big-I features a large digital display in the location you would typically expect to find the bin lid. The reason for that location is because the digital display acts as Big-I’s eye, which it uses to see, hear and communicate with anyone who is close-by.

Details about Big-I were revealed in a YouTube video released by its creators, NXRobo. While it’s becoming fairly common to see robots like Big-I and Zenbo, Jibo was even name-dropped at a recent CEDIA event in London, some of the future use-cases are a little clunky.

According to NXRobo, Big-I will be able to remind users that they need to exercise if they’re still sitting on the sofa after a certain period of time, or will even be able to come and fetch the user when it detects a stranger at the door. Much of this technology is already available on a user’s smartphone – so it’s probably not a great incentive to invest in a walking, talking, always-watching smart bin.

While they may not sound like the most useful use-cases, installers will appreciate NXRobo’s inclusion of open APIs and a unique operating system that makes it incredibly easy to customise. Big-I will supposedly support smart home appliances, lighting systems and smart thermostats, but will also be able to control other non-typical smart home devices, such as a Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Big-I may be designed to be cute (and cuddly?) but the technology behind it is designed to be extremely powerful. Users can use commands more commonly associated with IFTTT than with personal assistants. That means a user can say “if John is in the living room after 7PM and it is below 22°C, then turn up the thermostat to 25°C.”

NXRobo has packed in a plethora of modern technologies to power Big-I. This includes a 3D visual system and a 720p colour camera designed to recognise faces, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Infrared connectivity, light, ambient temperature, humidity accelerator, gyroscope and haptic sensors and a 360° microphone array.

Big-I is also reportedly capable of obstacle avoidance, automatic navigation, voice programming, auto-dock charging, audio localisation, receiving voice messages and video calls, preventing itself from falling, building maps, recognising body motion, taking pictures, path planning and answering any questions that are thrown at it.

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