Computex: Asus unveils Zenbo, a cute robot for the home priced at $599

The Zenfone maker said it wants to enable 'robotic computing for every household'

Asus has just unveiled what’s likely to be the most talked about product at this week’s Computex trade show in Taipei, a cute talking robot for the home priced at US$599.

Called Zenbo, Asus pitched it as a personal assistant that can help look after elderly relatives or read stories to the kids, but that might be selling it a bit short.

The robot is about two feet high and rolls around on wheels, with a display that can show its animated face or be used for other things like making video calls and streaming movies.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih demonstrated Zenbo at a press conference in Taipei Monday, giving it voice commands and asking it questions is it rolled around the stage.

“Hey Zenbo, is it true you can take pictures”? he asked.

“Yes, I can take photographs,” the robot replied.

He told Zenbo to take his photo with the audience in the background. Shih positioned himself on stage and Zenbo trundled over and took his picture. It was an impressive demonstration, assuming the Zenbo wasn’t being remotely controlled somehow from backstage.

Zenbo James Niccolai

There was no word when Zenbo will go on sale and a spokesman said Asus doesn’t yet have a ship date. It wants developers to sign up for a software kit that will let them build applications for it.

But Zenbo appears to be able to do quite a lot already.

A big part of the pitch is caring for the elderly, which could be especially popular in nearby Japan, which is struggling with an aging population. Zenbo "helps to bridge the digital divide between generations" by allowing seniors to make video calls and use social networking with simple voice commands, Asus said.

It can also connect to a smart bracelet and alert relatives via smartphone app if their elderly relative has a fall.

It’s not something other robots haven’t done before, but it’s impressive that Asus will offer those capabilities for the price of a PC.

For kids, Zenbo can read them stories, show videos and play interactive games.

It’s tempting to think of Zenbo as an Amazon Echo or Siri on wheels, though it’s unclear if it will be as smart as those other digital assistants. It does attempt to answer general knowledge questions, though.

“Hey Zenbo, who is smarter, Leonardo Da Vinci or Albert Einstein?” Shih asked at one point.

“I’m sorry, I do not know the answer, but I will continue to work on my knowledge,” Zenbo said.

It will also be able to dim the lights, turn off the TV and control other household appliances, according to Shih, though he didn’t say what technology standards it supports or how it will do that.

In fact, Asus provided almost no technical details about the robot. After the demonstration, Shih was joined briefly by an Intel executive, suggesting Intel may have had a hand in its development.

“For decades, humans have dreamed of owning such a companion: one that is smart, dear to our hearts, and always at our disposal," Shih said. "Our ambition is to enable robotic computing for every household.”

You can read more about Zenbo and watch a video of it in action here.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags computexrobotsasus

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?