Musio robot may be music to the ears of AI fans, kids

The most widely-used personal assistant application remains Apple’s Siri. But, as many iPhone and iPad users know, it is pretty difficult to engage in a true conversation with Siri because its software can only do what it’s been programmed to do by Apple.

Musio is a cross between a robotic toy along the lines of Sony’s long-discontined AIBO and a personal assistant. The Android-based device features artificial intelligence and was designed to engage and grow with its user, while its Arduino-compatible board enables the device to do whatever the user asks, its maker says. It is being fielded in three separate versions, each featuring a different brain.

There’s a Simple 16-GB one at $199 that can only remember five conversations, and lacks the Arduino-compatible board and Internet connectivity of the other two models; a Smart 16-GB version at $399, offering faster reaction time, more natural conversation and Wi-Fi; and the fastest 64-GB Genius model at $799. Development kit and kids packages are also being offered for the Smart and Genius versions at $498 and $898, respectively. Each will ship in June 2016. Its maker set an Indiegogo campaign goal of raising $50,000 by July 6.

The product’s robotic voice has a high annoyance potential and the on the offering on the whole seems kind of gimmicky, especially true when it makes bad jokes and fart noises. It would probably make sense for the Simple model to be targeted as a cute product for kids, the Smart version to be targeted at adult consumers, and the Genius version to be targeted at only the most AI-fanatical of consumers. Its maker’s claim that Musio can do whatever the user asks also smacks of exaggeration.


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