In an update to its supporters, Jibo announced that there are two ways for its backers to get their hands on the social robot.
Option A: Participate in Jibo’s pre-launch program and receive an early version of Jibo starting in November 2016
Option B: Wait until the public version of Jibo is launched. Jibo didn’t specify a timeframe for when this will happen.
The pre-launch version of Jibo will ship to backers in November on a first-ordered, first-received basis. Here’s the important part: the hardware will be finalized on the pre-launch version of Jibo, but the software will not be finalized.
Jibo says it will automatically update the software on all the pre-launch models on a regular basis, but that there could be issues. Jibo says it is still working on reducing latency, improving voice recognition accuracy, Jibo’s vocal expressiveness, snappier performance, and WiFi router coverage. The company is stresses that the Jibo pre-launch models with offer the same software and functionality of all other Jibos that ship during the public release.
For backers who don’t want a pre-launch version of Jibo, you’ll just have to keep waiting until the social robot is rolled out fully to the public. Jibo says the date of the public launch hasn’t been determined, and that this “date is dependent on the pre-launch beta period feedback.”
But it does sound like that public launch date isn’t too far off. Jibo also announced phase two of its in-home beta testing will begin October 10. Twenty-five families will receive fully-functioning Jibos and will live with the social robot for a week, asking Jibo to perform different tasks and interacting with him whenever possible.
Justin Woo, Jibo’s developer evangelist, is participating in a session at RoboBusiness called “Outlook for Enabling Technologies in the Consumer Robotics Market.” Jibo will surely come up in the discussion, so stay tuned for updates.
Jibo also posted pictures of the pre-launch models being manufactured at a plant in China. Jibo says that “in order to produce the number of units we need for our early adopter community, we have to start producing and shipping Jibos to the US while we simultaneously continue to refine his software and experience.”
Jibo, of course, is the most successful crowdfunded robot ever, raising $3,710,410 (2,288% funded) on Indiegogo when its campaign closed on September 15, 2014. However, Jibo has missed a couple of its shipping deadlines and in August 2016 announced it won’t be shipping to backers outside the US and Canada anytime soon due to “performance latency issues.”
The company said the solution is to have a “fully localized Jibo” in different countries. For example, a Jibo that speaks and understands Japanese with servers located in Japan, or a German-speaking Jibo built with servers located in Germany.