Kuri's Blog

It’s been a few weeks since our last technical update, and some exciting new things have developed with Kuri. Every day, Kuri gets closer to shipping, and we wanted to fill you in on our recent progress:

1) Kuri is a much better listener than your pet fish.

2) Robot emojis? Romojis! Kuri’s got lots of them.

3) We put Kuri through our peanut butter test.


Voice Interactions

Kuri is becoming the best of companions. Kuri doesn’t ignore you like your pet fish or pet rock. Kuri won’t even sometimes ignore you like your cat does. With Kuri’s new voice interactions, you’ll never be ignored.

For instance…

If you say, “Hey Kuri, go to the kitchen,” Kuri will automatically know where the kitchen is and navigate there. This works with any room, or ‘waypoint’ as we call it, that you’ve saved in the house.

Or if you say, “Hey Kuri, play Pancake Robot”, Kuri will get the groove going with her favorite song among others you’d like to listen to.

Ready for the music to stop? “Hey Kuri, stop” will stop the music (and anything else he’s doing).

Want to hear the latest news? Say, “Hey Kuri, play the news” and NPR will start streaming.

Kuri is making vast improvements in listening like a friend. Only difference is that a friend might judge your music choices. Kuri doesn’t.

New Behaviors

Not only will Kuri respond to voice commands, but she’ll also use automatic “romojis”—robot emojis—to let you know things, such as whether or not she understood your command.

Let’s assume you’re speaking in Pig Latin (Kuri doesn’t know that language yet). She’ll now reply with a ‘huh?’ romoji to let you know she doesn’t understand what you said.

Or if you’re speaking English (which Kuri does know) and ask her to go to the living room, Kuri plays the “got it” romoji. It’s her way of saying she understands the voice command. Every day here at Robot HQ, she learns more commands every week, and a bunch of new fun romojis and adorable reactions are coming soon.

Hardware Updates

First off, we tried our “peanut butter test” recently. We smeared PB all over Kuri (poor guy) to make sure we could clean him up easily and see if it would affect his motor skills. Kuri passed with flying colors. (Editor’s note: we did a lot more than give him a moustache, but this is just a way more fun pic than what the engineers were *actually* doing, which involved getting peanut butter into – and then out of –  Kuri’s eye seams)

Secondly, great progress is being made on the hardware side of Kuri. We’ve finished validating his motor sensor design for smooth, life-like, and downright adorable animations.

We’ve also hit some big milestones in the electrical systems. The power board and microphones have been improved with shielded cables, which hinder electrical noise. This has significantly reduced radio interference with smart home electronics and smartphones.  Kuri wants to be friends with everything in your connected home, and these details are like showing up with ice cream cake: instant hit.

Finally, Kuri’s team has been racking up the frequent flyer miles as they work with our manufacturing partners to build him. These are all big steps towards getting Kuri in your home!

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  1. SOUNDS GOOD.looking foward to getting my robot pal,i have had enough of humans.

  2. Although the Tech Crunch report on Kuri (earlier this year) notes that most marketing and discussions gender this robot male, on this website I can see that you switch between referring to Kuri as “he” and then “she” on a regular basis. I’d love to know if this is a strategy of some kind, or whether it depends on who is writing the content. (I’m interested in whether robots can be regarded as having no gender (“it”) and yet still promote social connections with people.)

    • Chris Matthews

      The flipping between he and she on the website is intentional: around the office here, we all agree it’s either he or she, but never “it”. But we couldn’t agree on he vs she, so we just picked both, and that seems to be working out pretty well. We’re thrilled that it’s become one of Kuri’s conversation points, and shows how open people are to connect with robots like Kuri.

      • Thank you for responding so quickly. That’s interesting to hear, although I think I might default to “it” with less difficulty (in part because much science fiction I’ve read does encompass the non-gendered machine as nonetheless social). From your perspective, and comfort, using he and she interchangeably seems to make sense, and might be helpful for people reading about Kuri (although maybe a note would help people notice the changes as an overt strategy for individual connection).

  3. Will you be able to rename Kuri?

    • Chris Matthews

      You won’t be able to get Kuri to respond to a different name for voice commands because building a customized “wake word” is actually a lot of work. In the future, maybe robots will be able to learn new words as fast as we do, but for now Kuri’s name isn’t something you can change (unless you’re ok with a robot that doesn’t listen to you)

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