Alpha Smart Technologies, a newly launched $304 million initiative aimed at developing and marketing a range of smart devices and robots, has partnered with Blue Frog Robotics and their Buddy robot, and Turing Robot and their AI robot operating system.
Buddy is the cute little robot from French startup Blue Frog Robotics. Turing Robot is a Chinese software developer well along the way to providing a robot operating system enabling interactive communication in Chinese between humans, robots and smart devices. Turing's system also has an SDK and API system for app developers.
Combining the two (Blue Frog and Turing Robot) into a new wholly-owned entity, Alpha Smart Technologies, is Guangdong Alpha Animation and Culture Company (Alpha), one of the world's largest developers of animation and toys. Alpha is projecting sales of more than one million smart watches and robots by the end of 2016 with a major focus on China's K-12 group of children.
Rodolphe Hasselvander, CEO of Blue Frog Robotics, said:
This partnership will help us to reach the Chinese market. ALPHA is huge, It’s like Disney in China. They have contents, TV channels, stores (online / off line) etc… It’s a huge traction for a start-up like us.
Buddy joins a rising number of small robots and smart devices for the home. Robots such as Buddy, and the proliferation of mobile robot butlers, guides and kiosks, promise to recognize your voice and face and help you plan your calendar, provide reminders, take pictures of special moments, text, call and videoconference, order fast food, keep watch on your house or office, read recipes, play games, read emotions and interact accordingly, and the list goes on. They are attempting to be analogous to a sharp administrative assistant that knows your schedule, contacts and interests and engages with you about them, helping you stay informed, connected and active.
Certainly social, humanoid and mobile robots are crowd pleasers. Ten years ago PopSci reporter Tim Hornyak wrote “Loving the Machine,” a book about Asia's long-time fascination with robots. His insights still appear to be true: there really is an unusual affinity for human-like robotic things — which is why so much money is flowing to adapt these new social robots to quickly speak Chinese and Japanese (in addition to English) and to provide localized apps for their software stores.
This recent article is relevant: 2016 will be a pivotal year for this type of robot.