Editors’ Note, July 24th, 2018: Mayfield Robotics has ceased production of Kuri and is refunding all preorders. See the details of the cancellation here. The earlier version of this story follows.
With Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 1080p cam and sturdy wheels designed to traverse any interior flooring, Kuri has a lot going for it. What I first noticed, though, were the eyes. For better or for worse, every inch of Kuri looks to be designed with the goal of making this robot helper adorable.
At first, I thought Kuri would be a bit like an Amazon Echo strapped to a set of wheels. In practice, Kuri doesn’t have nearly the functionality of the Echo — it’s more of a roving security cam with a bluetooth speaker than an always-listening, multi-purpose assistant. Kuri’s advantage is its personality. Its wordless chirps and nods remind me of a Pixar character, and Kuri was clearly designed to please the younger members of your family while it helps you patrol the halls and keep an eye on your home.
Getting to know Kuri
On display at CES, Kuri — created by the Bosch-backed startup Mayfield Robotics — will be able to use its camera to check on your pets when you’re away. It can set reminders and use its Wi-Fi connection to tell you about the weather. It’ll also work with IFTTT, the online rule-maker with a ton of smart home partners, to control some connected devices.
Supposedly, Kuri can also recognize faces and context and adapt its responses accordingly. Those responses include chirps and nods, since Kuri doesn’t talk, though it will play podcast, music and tell stories. It also has LEDs built into its chest that can change colors.
After spending some time with Kuri in person, I can confirm that it’s instantly likable. The way it smiles with its eyes is cute, though I had some trouble getting it to respond to me when I said “Hey Kuri.” Weirdly, it responded just fine when I said “Hey” near it in another context, but the voice recognition still needs some polish by the time it ships in December 2017.
The Kuri team has work to do in the coming year, as Kuri wasn’t yet ready to follow me autonomously or ready to do anything else via voice command other than chirp. Kuri does successfully navigate from room to room now, remembering where rooms are once you guide it there using the remote control in the app. It also successfully navigates around objects in its path using a laser sensor.
Here’s everything else we know about Kuri so far:
- It’ll have an iOS and Android app
- It has three hours of battery life
- A four-microphone array helps it hear your voice commands
- It’s 20 inches tall and 14 pounds, so it won’t be easy to lug it to different floors
- Kuri’s sensors help it map rooms and objects and avoid falling over edges
By the time it launches, Kuri will supposedly be able to follow a routine based on who it recognizes. It can send you a custom notification if it spots your dog on the couch, so you can yell at Fido using Kuri’s speakers. Kuri can patrol your home using a predetermined route, letting you know if it spots something out of the ordinary, and it can use its motion and sound detection to hunt down an unusual occurrence and send you a recording.
All of that sounds cool, but Kuri will cost a hefty $700. Starting today, you can preorder Kuri for a $100 deposit. Kuri will only be available in the US when it launches, but its price converts to around £570 or AU$975. For that much, Kuri will need to be more than a security camera that doubles as a toy. I’d particularly hope for more smart home integration and more options for voice commands.
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