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In this piece we take a brief peek at the possible world of robotic companions. In such a world, robots are adopted as butlers in our homes, as baby watchers, as friends and in general as life companions. For example, Helen lives with a robotic companion named Schpuffy. In the morning, Schpuffy checks Helen's schedule and finds out she has an appointment with a neighbor to take a walk at 8:30 a.m. Schpuffy recognizes that it takes 30 minutes for her to prepare to go for a walk and wakes her up at 8:00 a.m. After she gets up, Schpuffy reminds Helen of her appointment at 8:30 a.m. While she gets dressed, Schpuffy lets her know that current weather is very cold and suggests that she wear thermal clothing. When she's about to leave the house, Schpuffy says "good bye" to her and locks the door as she leaves. Schpuffy hasn't gained majored acceptance. It's not in every home or even in a tiny fraction of homes. However, it's a bold new research that is taking shape with early commercial products already hitting the marketplace. It could soon be the chief appliance in your home, or the new interface technology for smart spaces.
Date of Publication: April-June 2009