One interesting device at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year was Hubble's Hugo. Although Hugo can be used as a security camera, most of the people who tested out this spherical robot were most impressed by its ability to analyze facial features.
Hugo looks just like an eyeball that sits atop a moving base. Critics have compared it to products like the Jibo made by LG. Organizers at the CES hooked up Hugo to a nearby TV screen so people could see exactly what Hugo was seeing in real-time.
The designers of this product say Hugo can analyze facial features and distinguish between major human emotions. The six feelings Hugo can distinguish between include surprise, fear, disgust, joy, sadness, and anger. It only takes Hugo a few moments to decide which of those six emotions a person is radiating from their facial expression.
This isn't the first time facial scanning technology has been used. In 2013, the company Fraunhofer IIS released the facial scanning SHORE system. Today, the SHORE system is used in many stores to track customers' reaction to different displays. Fraunhofer IIS also worked on a technology that could analyze human emotions with Google. This so-called "wearable empath" headset was designed for the Google Glass product and was intended to help Autistic people recognize other people's emotions.
Hugo's designers hope this new device will enhance the "smart home" experience. If Hugo is integrated into the entire home system, it could potentially start playing soothing music if it senses someone is frustrated, or it could turn on the outdoor lights if it believes someone inside the home is fearful.
Hugo can tell the difference between humans and non-humans, so it won't alert a homeowner every time an animal or car passes by the front door. This device is also able to turn 360 degrees and follow people around a room.
Hubble designed this product to be compatible with Amazon's Alexa system. Anyone can ask Hugo questions and get a clear response. Hugo is also designed to give accurate weather forecasts, play radio stations, help people with their shopping needs, and even ask and answer trivia questions. This device can serve as a major entertainment hub and is fully equipped to integrate with well over 500 of the most popular entertainment apps.
New parents may want to consider placing a Hugo by their newborn's crib. Hugo can serve as a baby monitor, and it can even alert parents when their child looks sad. If Hugo hears a child cry, it can play happy music or read one of the child's favorite audiobooks automatically.
Of course, there are times when you might not like to be tracked by Hugo's all-seeing eye. If that's the case, all you have to do is shut Hugo's eyelid cover.
Executives at Hubble said everyone who purchases Hugo will get 24 hours of free cloud storage. People who need more cloud storage time must purchase it in a subscription plan.
For those interested in purchasing the Hugo, it's probably going to set you back around $300. The first Hugo devices will most likely be released in time for the 2017 Christmas season.