Meet the World's First Family Robot

Society has long fantasized about robotic home helpers, but making one that is smart, helpful, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing is no easy feat. That’s what makes the new Jibo robot so impressive. This 6-pound, 11-inch-tall mechanical cyborg was unveiled on Indiegogo today as “The World’s First Family Robot,” aimed at being both a home helper and a friend. The crowdfunding campaign already hit its goal of $100,000 and is still climbing.

Jibo was created by Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, director of the Personal Robots Group at MIT Media Lab and an expert in how humans interact with robots. Her goal? To humanize technology. “What if technology actually treated you like a human being?” Breazeal asks. “What if technology helped you feel closer to the ones you loved? What if technology helped you like a partner, rather than simply being a tool? That’s what Jibo’s about.” She wants Jibo to be a household companion, like a pet, or perhaps even another family member. And except for a heartbeat, it has all the hallmarks of a buddy.

It knows who you are.

Jibo's two hi-res cameras recognize and track your face, letting the bot call you by name and respond to your commands.

It knows what you like.

Over time, the bot will adapt to your preferences and learn your tastes. The Indiegogo demo video shows Jibo knowing—and then ordering—its owner’s favorite take-out meal.

It does nice things for you.

Jibo will send reminders and relay messages from your mobile devices. It will help you take the perfect photo by detecting when everyone in the frame is smiling before snapping the shot. The demo video also hints at a time when Jibo will be able to connect to other smart things in your house, switching on lights when you get home or turning down the temperature when you’re gone. The demo video even shows Jibo telling bedtime stories to youngsters.

Jibo can project social and emotional cues.

The bot's LCD screen serves as a de facto face with a digital eye that can squint with happiness or swell with curiosity. It responds to human touch, and its fluid body motions make him appear truly alive and relatable. “It’s really important for technology to be humanized,” Dr. Breazeal told the New York Times. “The next stage in computing, the next wave, is emotion.”

But what about security? The idea of having an all-seeing intelligent robot lurking in the corner of the living room might make more than a few people uneasy. The company says users' privacy is a top priority. It has “designed policies and controls to safeguard the collection, use, and disclosure of your information.”

At $499, this robot is cheaper than many top-of-the-line laptops. If you want to get your hands on Jibo, its creators say they hope to make him available to consumers by the end of 2015.

Images courtesy of JIBO on Indiegogo.

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.

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A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

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