Samsung Declares the "Age of AI," Will Launch a Revamped Ballie Companion Bot This Year

First shown off as a proof of concept in 2020, Ballie is making the jump into the home — though Samsung isn't yet talking pricing.

Samsung Electronics has unveiled a next-generation version of its spherical companion bot, Ballie, during a press conference in which it promised to deliver "the Age of AI" with artificial intelligence for all.

The ridged round proof of concept Ballie robot was a big part of Samsung's "Age of Experience" presentation during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, unveiled by H.S Kim, president and chief executive officer of the company's consumer electronics division, as a "life companion" which could understand and support its owners, offering assistance with common household tasks — though not, sadly, the cleaning.

Instead, its onboard artificial intelligence system allowed it to act as a mobile interface and fitness assistant, something the company has considerably expanded in its successor — also called Ballie.

Samsung has announced plans to launch its Ballie companion bot by the end of the year, as it declares the "Age of AI." (📹: Samsung Electronics)

Unveiled during a press event branded as the "Age of AI," the revamped Ballie has a smoother and sleeker look and improved capabilities — including enhanced abilities to interface with home appliances as the heart of a smart home system. Its on-board AI now includes better systems for tracking its users' patterns and habits to deliver smarter assistance, Samsung claims, though still can't help with the cleaning other than to direct a separate robotic vacuum cleaner, but it can be told to patrol the home or check up on pets by name.

The rounded Ballie robot includes a front-facing projector, which can be used for entertainment, news and weather updates, or exercise — with one demo showing the machine automatically projecting workout videos onto the best available surface, including the ceiling, while correcting for angle and distance. The same projector can be used for video calls, Samsung says, while the built-in speakers and microphones allow the robot to be used as a hands-free voice call system too.

Samsung unveiled the original Ballie in 2020, but the proof of concept gadget never made it to shop shelves. (📹: Samsung Electronics)

During the same presentation, Samsung's Jong-Hee Han predicted that artificial intelligence will become a "background" feature of the home in the near future. "With the emergence of artificial intelligence, smarter, better experiences will redefine how we live," Han claimed. "Samsung's broad portfolio of powerful devices, along with the pursuit of open collaboration, will help bring AI and hyper-connectivity to all."

Ballie, meanwhile, is making the move from proof of concept to commercial product with Samsung declaring its intention to release a commercial version of the device before the end of 2024 — though at an as-yet unconfirmed price point. Interested parties, meanwhile, can see the device running in the video above, or visit Samsung's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week to meet Ballie in person.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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