Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Meet Ballie, Samsung's rolling robot that runs your home

Announced at CES 2020, the company's tennis ball-like assistant can follow you around, learn your routine and manage your smart home, heralding an era of what Samsung calls 'the age of experience' and hyper-personalised tech

Pankti Mehta Kadakia
Published: Jan 7, 2020 12:00:44 PM IST
Updated: Jan 7, 2020 03:13:44 PM IST

Meet Ballie, Samsung's rolling robot that runs your homeSamsung consumer electronics president and CEO HS Kim

Move over, Alexa and Siri. There’s a new kind of voice assistant on its way.

Delivering the opening keynote at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Samsung consumer electronics president and CEO HS Kim introduced Ballie, a yellow tennis ball-like personal robot that is a camera, speaker, voice assistant, fitness tracker, remote control for your home devices and a ‘fun companion’ for pets and kids, all rolled into one.

While details of when Ballie will hit stores and how much it will cost have not been divulged yet, Samsung screened a demo video of how it works. Ballie uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn your routine and preferences, and can integrate with the rest of your smart devices. It could, for instance, detect that your room floor has been spilled on, and activate your smart vacuum to clean it up. It also patrols your home while you’re away or at work, keeping an eye on your pets, children or elderly family members, letting you drop in with its camera to see what’s going on inside.

Samsung’s demo video showcased Ballie waking up a woman by raising the curtains, then turning on a workout routine, watching her pet dog while she is at work, and activating other devices for daily chores.

“The way we live has changed. A living room, for instance, can be a home office or even an art studio. What we need now is technology that is personalised but also simple and fun to use,” said Kim. Samsung reimagines the home as a ‘living organism’, a ‘deeply personal space’ that is different for each person.

Ballie is meant to be ‘actively helpful’ and personalised, versus passive devices that take only real-time instructions. It has on-device AI capabilities, which means it is not sending data to the cloud, and a mobile interface that seeks solutions for people’s changing needs. Samsung claims that it will maintain stringent privacy standards, putting people in control of their information.

“Samsung will never share your data with third parties without prior and direct consent from you,” Kim said, citing Samsung Knox, the company’s defence-grade security platform that protects all of Samsung’s devices—from TVs to home appliances. “We will further ensure transparent data management and transfer by advancing our data protection efforts with on-device AI, edge computing and blockchain technology.”

Samsung also announced its investment in ‘mobility as a service’, testing 5G-enabled vehicles and smart buildings. Its smart cities vision involves utilising 5G, AI and Internet of Things devices to make city life more efficient, while also saving energy. In a smart building, for instance, the elevator would pre-empt your arrival, repairs would be requested automatically, and your package deliveries would be managed. The 5G-enabled cars could communicate with other city sensors to get real-time traffic updates or check for parking spots.