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Asus reveals 'affordable' household robot

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Asus's small, simply-built household robot offers a wide array of features in addition to smart home control.
Asus's small, simply-built household robot offers a wide array of features in addition to smart home control.

Asus has announced what it calls an "affordable" household robot, which it showcased at the Computex electronics show in Taiwan on Monday.

The voice-activated, mobile robot, called Zenbo, will retail for $599 (about R9 500), and boast a range of features in addition to offering smart home control similar to Amazon's Echo system, or upcoming Google Home.

Using its speaker and screen, the robot can play media or allow users to browse social networks.

Equipped with a camera, Zenbo can detect faces, take photos and videos on command, and be used for remote home monitoring via its corresponding mobile app.

The robot, which has its own signature voice for responding to commands, comes equipped with a library of children's books, and can read the stories aloud on request. It also features a built-in encyclopaedia and educational games.

Asus suggests that the device may also be able to identify emergencies - for example if an elderly person has fallen - and send urgent alerts to relatives, friends or caregivers.

The hardware and electronics company says its home robot will be cheaper than competing models because it lacks complex humanoid features such as arms. The robot, which The Verge describes as "about knee height to the average adult", is comprised of a circular base, which houses its wheels and speakers, and an oblong screen, which displays a humanoid cartoon face or the relevant information at hand, and is attached to the base via a metal neck.

Yet despite the robot's promising array of features, the BBC reports that it was only able to perform a limited selection of tasks when it was demonstrated to one of its correspondents.

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