Maya is a Robot With FeelingsBy - 07/31/2016
Remember Buddy and Aido? The cute, little robots we previously introduced you to? Well, they’d better brace themselves for Maya – a personal robot set to ship in August. Not only does Maya promise an earlier shipping date, but she also has features not yet seen. Are her extra features enough to justify her higher price tag? Or should you wait for Buddy or Aido?
Maya is a personal robot by Autonomous, a company formerly known as RoboBase and maker of the smart desk we wrote about last week. The robot was partially funded through Kickstarter. The original campaign was launched in January of 2015, and it was a success. A year and a half after the campaign, Maya is finally getting ready to come home to her owners.
Maya is a tall, thin robot with a round, robovac-like base responsible for moving her around your house. She navigates autonomously by mapping your home and using object avoidance to prevent crashes. But Maya’s most important part is her head. Her head is an LCD touch screen tablet with multi-touch support—only one of the ways you can interact with her. The LCD screen displays her as an animated person, and you can choose from several personas to find a look that suits you best.
Maya has feelings, too. She can smile, frown, show excitement, and more. It is Autonomous’ goal to create robots with different personalities and abilities. Maya is the first.
What Can Maya Do?
Maya is not very different from Buddy or Aido. She moves, speaks, answer questions, responds to voice commands, tells bedtime stories, controls your smart home devices, learns your preferences, helps you around the house by reading instructions or recipes, and generally does things other robots do. What sets her apart? Her intelligence.
Maya is intelligent enough to not just see, but to recognize. She can put a name to a face, understand people’s emotions by looking at their face, and recognize objects in your home. Her ability to recognize allows her to interact in new ways not seen before. For example, if she see’s you are smiling, she might suggest you take a picture. She also uses natural language understanding when taking voice commands. She doesn’t just hear you like Amazon’s Echo; she tries to understand what you mean.
Maya For Home Security & Safety
Aside from being a personal assistant, Maya can assist you in keeping your home safe. Her camera is helpful in monitoring your home while you’re away. For instance, you can instruct her to go to your kitchen and ask her to send a live video feed to your smartphone. You can also have her patrol your home while you watch the video from your phone.
Maya has sound and motion sensors as well, which she uses to monitor for strange activity. You can also take advantage of her facial recognition to automate a response when an unfamiliar face (i.e. a burglar) is seen. You can have her notify you, turn on lights, record a video, or do all three.
Keeping your home safe is also her mission. She can feel using her temperature, humidity, and air quality sensor. That way, she can notify you when the temperature is too high or low, when it’s too humid, or if the air quality is bad.
Maya has an edge over Aido and Buddy when it comes to building up friendships with other brands. Her friends include the Nest Learning Thermostat, Philips Hue light bulbs, Belkin WeMo, Sonos speakers, and services like Yelp and Foursquare. By integrating with these brands and services, Maya can extend beyond her built-in abilities and help you even more. For example, she can help you save energy when she notices you are away by turning down your Nest Thermostat and turning off all Philips Hue bulbs. On the other hand, she can help make your home secure by randomly turning the lights on when you’re away to make it appear like you’re home.
An App Gallery For Your Personal Robot
Most of Maya’s abilities come from apps. Like a smartphone, you can make her smarter by downloading and installing these apps. Will they be free? Some of them will, but that doesn’t speak for the apps created by third-party developers, as Autonomous does offer a developers’ kit to those interested.
Some of the apps featured by Autonomous are the Food Ordering app, Recipes and Guides app, Storyteller app, Personal Security Guard app, Telepresence and Video Chat app, and Autonomous Photographer app. These apps will be preloaded to Maya and are ready for use out of the box.
Maya, Buddy, or Aido?
What do you think? Do Maya’s features justify her $1,499 price tag? I’d say no. She has some new features including Emotion Recognition and superior Smart Home Integration, but I wouldn’t say these features are worth an extra $800 (Aido’s price starts at $699). Also, I prefer Aido’s modular design, which means you can swap out his parts for new ones as technology evolves. But if you really want to go for it, at least wait until she ships to see how the features perform. In the meantime, you can check out Maya here.