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iBaby is releasing a dancing digital assistant

iBaby's smart assistant will flourish or perish by its personality -- but it has promise.

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David Priest
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David Priest

Editor

David Priest is an award-winning writer and editor who covers home security for CNET. When he isn't waving his hands wildly in front of motion sensors or making faces at video doorbells, he spends his time playing board games and video games with his wife and family.

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Baby-tech startup iBaby has cemented itself in the monitoring industry over the past couple of years because of a few creative design decisions -- most notably replacing the actual monitor with a smart phone, and focusing more on the camera. Their feature-rich cameras, like the M6S, are some of the best on the market.

And now, they're bringing that experience to Yobi, a voice assistant and robot for the whole family. At $400, Yobi isn't cheap. But when I talked to iBaby President Elnaz Sarraf at CES 2017, she assured me that you get what you pay for -- a premium device.

Check out all the smart home products at CES 2017 (so far)

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Yobi's base functions include facial and voice recognition, voice-command response and the ability to speak and understand multiple languages -- English, Chinese, Spanish, French and more.

On top of this foundation, iBaby has layered a slew of other features:

  • Monitors air quality
  • Plays music (and, of course, dances)
  • Passes on messages left for family members
  • Sets reminders and alarms
  • "Checks on" kids

Sarraf says Yobi also will change over time, depending on how users utilize it. Eventually, its intuitive responses will be personalized to you, although how exactly this will shake out remains to be seen.

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In the brief time I worked with Yobi, I saw an assistant that works well -- but not one with the same development and interoperability as, say, Alexa or Aristotle. I'm excited to see how Yobi develops over time, because for any voice assistant, personality is key. What really distinguishes Siri from Alexa from Google Assistant and so on, is the way interacting with each of them feels.

If Yobi can create a compelling personality, and bring uniquely child-oriented features, it could represent another exciting entry in the emerging field of kid-friendly voice and robot assistants.

iBaby plans to make Yobi available in Q2 of 2017.

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