If the Consumer Electronics Show is even a glimpse of the future of technology, then the future is going to be downright adorable.
This week, the Las Vegas Convention Center was teeming with nonthreatening robot helpers eager to make our day-to-day lives a bit easier. And rather than the rigid, cold ‘bots we were expecting, many of these robots go above and beyond the call of duty to charm even the most skeptical human beings.
Here are five of the cutest robots we saw at CES 2014.
Budgee, Five Elements Robotics
With jewel-toned, lopsided eyes, Budgee was designed to be your friendly second pair of hands. This lightweight, three-wheeled robot has an eight-hour rechargeable battery and a 50-pound weight limit so it can follow you around and carry your things. And it’s relatively cheap: Contribute at least $1,200 to its Kickstarter campaign and your own Budgee will be slated to ship in July.
Less utilitarian but no less appealing, DiscoRobo detects nearby music and dances to the beat. With candy colored hues and dozens of expressions, this toy was designed to be a party loving playmate to the young and old alike. And at only $37, DiscoRobo was one of the most affordable robots showcased at CES 2014.
Synergy Swan, Rbot
Now you can turn your mobile phone into a literal mobile phone. Rbot connects with your Android smartphone or tablet to allow it to roam around the house, all the while wearing a smiling face. It can be equipped with a telepresence app, or simply programmed to play a video clip when it detects a person smiling at it. How’s that for sociable? The Synergy Swan costs $450.
RAPIRO, Kiluck Corporation
This Japanese robot looks like a chibi version of the classic humanoid robot silhouette. Its name “RAPIRO” is short for “Raspberry Pi Robot,” and, as you might have guessed, it can be programmed and powered entirely by that credit-card sized Linux computer chip. Launched from a successful Kickstarter, RAPIRO comes as a kit with some assembly required and costs $354.
Paro, Paro Robots
This cuddly creature isn’t a toy; it’s a $6,000 robotic caregiver. Designed to look like one of nature’s most adorable animals—a harp seal—Paro is given to elderly patients who need more TLC than busy nursing homes can provide. Everything about Paro has designed to be saccharinely sweet, from a coat of antibacterial fur to a pacifier charging station.
All photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite