CES is a time for strange tech to stand proudly next to its more boring rectangular counterparts. Which may explain one of Samsung’s weirder introductions. The company used CES 2020 to unveil Ballie, a little robotic assistant that looks exactly how you’d expect it to. That is, like a Sphero Bolt with a camera in its mug.
Just don’t kick ’em, please
Ballie is a robotic assistant of sorts — it’s designed to follow you around your home and do all sorts of interesting things. Thing like turning on TVs, opening blinds, adjusting temperatures in the home — generally the sort of thing you’d use a voice command for in current smart homes. It’ll have internal smarts and seems to respond to some voice commands. It’s almost as though Samsung has given a Google Nest Hub the ability to roam the house. And, to be fair, a bunch of extra functions.
What Samsung hasn’t done is explain why Ballie needs to be a ball. Granted, a smart home hub that follows you around will always be in range, so you don’t have to a) yell, or b) put a new device in every room. Whether users feel that a camera-toting smart orb is what they need in their lives right now is another matter entirely.
A softer side
Samsung’s promo video for Ballie makes it seem like one of the family. It responds to its name, performs all sorts of useful actions unprompted and is generally made out to seem very intelligent. The way it entertains the dog, shows its human that the dog’s having fun, and then cleans up after a spill are all very admirable… but we’ll wait till we get to see this in action before we’ll believe any of it.
But that might take a while. Ballie might be at CES 2020 but it hasn’t come with any sort of cost or timeline for its arrival. It might be an example of CES vapourware… or it could be an actual thing. If Ballie could really pull any of its advertising functions off, we’d think about getting one. And we’d be careful to keep our feet very far away from it, too.