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The iBot is Apple's Latest Move into Home Entertainment
As such, the iBot seamlessly integrates into your current Home Entertainment Systems. The iBot works with iTunes and AirTunes technologies so to play music throughout your existing home speaker system, or it can broadcast the music from its own inbuilt 20 watt speaker system. Additionally, the iBot can intelligently ‘learn’ your entertainment preferences, tailoring selections for your television viewing for your wirelessly connected Apple TV. Even more extraordinary, the iBot can carry out a stunning array of household chores, from cleaning the floor to scrubbing the toilet. It promises to learn the preferences of its owner, able to make calls, remember to pay bills. iBot will even entertain children as she dances along to music and ‘reads’ e-books to lull them to sleep. As the iBot learns your habits, she will take initiative to carry out tasks that you may have forgotten, such as walking your dog (more along the toy poodle than mastiff lines, the iBot cannot in its present design walk any dog over 40lbs).
iBot utilizes Siri technology, and developers have been met with a few problems along the way. While Siri is somewhat functional in her iPhone application, developers found they had to undo a large number of the snarky pre-built answers developers have fed into the software.
Sandwich photo via Shutterstock
“When we first asked the iBot to ‘Make us a sandwich’ Siri told us ‘I’m not permitted to prepare food’ — but she can! She can make a sandwich, she can make the coffee, she can operate a washing machine and fold the laundry, but we had a really hard time going through and overwriting all those dumb smart-ass responses those guys had programmed into it… some of them were more serious, when we asked her to call an ambulance, she said ‘From now on I’ll call you ‘An Ambulance’ it was maddening, and we had to redo the whole thing.”
While their source suggests that Apple will “start small” with the iBot, expectations for the device are high. “We expect this to become as standard and necessary for any household as the family car,” an Apple employee stated. Current pricing suggests that the iBot will retail for around $10,500, though that price may come down as early iBots are retained within Apple and used specifically to manufacture iBots.
“Our plan is to begin with 10 laboratory constructed iBots, once we iron out programming kinks,” the Apple Employee continued. “Those 10 will each — though working on a specific manufacturing task — will each be able to turn out an average of 15 iBots a day. Slow compared to the rate of production we’re used to, but we hope to improve upon that as we learn and the iBots learn to work together more efficiently. But even with that in mind, we could have a work force of around 500,000 within a few days if we allow for the occasional dud battery and so on.” Apple developers are presently at work on a UI for controlling the iBot run production lines.
We’re still not entirely sold on the idea. Yes, Apple has convinced a market weary of personal TVs that we can all benefit from full color video screens on our music players and an iPad, but can we really benefit from from a personal robot? Time will tell, and Tim Cook is rumored to launch the iBot this September. But whether it takes off as a personal consumer electronic device or not, it will undoubtedly remedy some of Apple’s concern’s over labor conditions in Chinese factories. The source added, “We’ll need people to monitor the iBots, of course, and that will involve potentially long shifts in front of computer screens as production continues 24 hours a day.”
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