Ballie: Samsung's New AI-Powered Robot
Thu, April 22, 2021

Ballie: Samsung's New AI-Powered Robot

Artificial intelligence and robotics are a powerful combination that industries are heavily investing in. These technologies are being relied upon to automate tasks in the workforce / Photo by: Goran Bogicevic via 123RF

 

Artificial intelligence and robotics are a powerful combination that industries are heavily investing in. These technologies are being relied upon to automate tasks in the workforce. In recent years, AI has become an increasingly common presence in robotic solutions, introducing flexibility and learning capabilities in previously rigid applications. AI has also paved the way for more robots to enter our industry.

The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reported that the pace of industrial automation is accelerating across much of the developed world. In 2016, there were 74 installed industrial robots per 1,000 employees worldwide, which increased to 85 the following year. The robot density in Europe is reportedly 106 units per 10,000 workers, while the US and Asia have 91 and 75 units, respectively. But these robot density rates are nothing compared to South Korea.

According to the World Economic Forum, an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas, South Korea had 710 installed industrial robots per 10,000 employees in 2017. This is mainly due to the continued installation of high volume robots in the electronics and electric sectors. 

South Korea is followed by Singapore with a density of 658 per 10,000 employees, with 90% of its industrial robots installed in its electronics industry. Germany and Japan, on the other hand, have density levels of just over 300 per 10,000 workers. However, the pace of automation in the US is slower with a density rate of 200. China had a density rate of 97 units, which is higher than the 25 units in 2013. 

Thus, people have become accustomed to seeing robots in business. Tech companies are creating more AI-powered robots for various purposes. For instance, Omron’s AI-powered robot can play ping pong with humans. It can read a person’s facial expressions, body language, and the environment. It also uses sensors to track the ball and react to the shot. While these machines possess no natural general intelligence, they are capable of solving problems and “thinking” in a limited capacity.

Ballie, An AI-Powered Robot

In this year’s CES, over 4,400 companies presented their innovations, from AI-powered smart devices and wearable sensors to robots and a “digital operating system.” The conference offers a preview of the technology, new customer service innovations, and trends shaping the business and consumer landscapes. Companies introduced their products that have the potential to further reshape the way we live. Across categories, brands and manufacturers are reimagining the customer experience and looking for ways to push the boundaries on what’s possible.

One of the highlights of this year’s CES is Ballie, a new "personal care robot" developed by Samsung. The tech company is making huge contributions with the help of AI, showing off different types of robots for consumers. This includes Bot Care for health monitoring, Bot Air for air purification, GEMS (Gait Enhancing and Motivating System) to help people with mobility issues, and Bot Retail for restaurants and shops. Ballie is also a great testament to Samsung’s ability to introduce fascinating AI-powered robots. 

According to CNET, an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally, Ballie is a small, bright yellow, rolling AI-powered robot that can understand, support, and react to people’s needs to be actively helpful around the house. Its on-device AI capabilities turn it into a fitness assistant or remote control. At the same time, Ballie can interact with other smart devices. Samsung has shown a video where the robot communicates with a smart vacuum cleaner to clear up some spilled cereal.

“Ballie patrols your home to keep you safe. He is a fitness assistant that gets you moving even when you’d rather lie on the couch and watch TV,” Sebastian Seung, Samsung’s chief research scientist, told an audience in Las Vega, said. 

Ben Wood, an analyst at market research firm CCS Insight, stated that Ballie is an interesting concept. He is expecting that robots like this would evolve quickly over the next decade. In fact, many consumers are already embracing devices such as robot vacuum cleaners. Thus, concepts or AI-powered robots like Ballie would be well accepted by the public as well. According to FierceHealthcare, an online site that delivers healthcare news at the intersection of business and policy, Ballie can also serve as a virtual personal trainer to help address health issues before its owner even gets sick. 

One of the highlights of this year’s CES is Ballie, a new "personal care robot" developed by Samsung. The tech company is making huge contributions with the help of AI, showing off different types of robots for consumers / Photo by: Kobby Dagan via 123RF

 

Ballie’s Future

In an onstage demo at CES 2020, the robot was seen following Samsung consumer electronics division CEO H.S. Kim by rolling around. It used its camera to track Kim as he walked across the stage. At the same time, Ballie gave cute little robotic chimes in response to a couple of commands from Kim. The robot even rolled into his hands when he called for it. Seung stated that Ballie represented the “next evolution of wellness.”

"We see on-device AI as central to truly personalized experiences. On-device AI puts you in control of your information and protects your privacy, while still delivering the power of personalization," he said.

As of now, it seems that Ballie can only do limited tasks and follow people around. However, Samsung’s promotional video showed that there will be more to the robot in the future. According to The Verge, an American technology news and media network that publishes news items, long-form feature stories, guidebooks, product reviews, and podcasts, Ballie could potentially be more of an at-home assistant. It could turn on the TV or even open the blinds in its owner’s home. 

Ballie received admiration not only from the people at CES 2020 but also on social media. The robot has been compared to robot companions from several movies, including BB-8 from the latest Star Wars trilogy films. "It's fun - it reminded me of a cross between a Sphero toy and R2-D2 with the sounds it was making," Simon Bryant at market research firm Futuresource said. 

Ballie is a great example of how an AI-powered robot can help humans with household chores as well as understand and support them.