ASUS is stealing the hearts of many with its new friendly home robot called Zenbo. At a launch event earlier this week, the company announced that its Intel powered robot will be available for grabs in certain countries starting January 1st of 2017. Although, as you may suspect given how new it is, the robot will only be available in limited quantities at launch. On the entry-level model, ASUS originally hoped to be able to welcome the robot to market at just $599.00, but was forced to settled on a $620.00 price tag when it came time to crunch the final numbers. Should you be interested in purchasing the more expensive 126GB variety, you can expect to pay around $780.00. Starting January 1st, both models will be available for purchase.

As a part of the announcement, ASUS will be collaborating with Taiwan’s National Police Agency in order to allow people to place emergency video calls with the police. Although little is known about this feature at this point in time, we believe the feature will require a special voice command or gesture which will allow a call with the police to be established. It is possible that police will be able to take control over Zenbo to better assess called-in situations.

Additions to the list of Zenbo voice control features include local services including food delivery, taxi and van booking, online shopping, online banking, medicine prescriptions, music streaming, house cleaning, gaming, and more. We will have to wait and see how far the voice commands take users using the Zenbo as a personal assistant-like device during a time where competition in this realm is fierce. ASUS will have to find a way to make talking to Zenbo more convenient than quickly typing on our mobile phones or shouting to home a much cheaper devices like Amazon’s Echo.

ASUS hopes that families will love Zenbo. With kid companionship viewed as one of its biggest selling point, ASUS also unbelted a simple block-based programming suite that will allow children as young as age five to use simple logic to automate a Zenbo’s movement. Even younger kids will be entertained with Zenbo’s simple games and story-telling. Families can add an optional subscription featuring Shimajiro the Tiger. As a courtesy to early adopters, the 32GB version will include a one month free subscription with 19 stories while the 126GB version will offer an extra month on top of that.

More basic features that Zenbo is capable of performing include control of your TV, ability to stream media, remote-controlled home surveillance, human fall-detection, and remote screen assistance for the tech-illiterate. All of these features are included in addition to standard collision and drop avoidance thanks to the many sensor dots that surround Zenbo’s body. It features a depth camera in its head for facial and object recognition. It could take some time before Zenbo makes its way to global markets. As Zenbo’s user base grows, so will its knowledge and functionality. The robot is most useful when it can connect to local services and utilize properly-tuned speech recognition. For these reasons, it will be worth the wait for users living in unsupported countries for the time being. The wait shouldn’t be too long assuming Zenbo receives a popular introduction in countries where it will appear at the turn of the new year.

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