Samsung showed off a remodeled Ballie, a sunshine-yellow autonomously driving robot, at CES 2024. Described as an “at-home assistant,” this bowling ball of a robot is designed to answer your phone calls, play calming music, display the hottest news stories, and more. Maybe I’m the type of person that’s easily charmed by whimsical things, but this little dude knocked the contrarian right out of me. Sure, it’s a practical device in some ways, but will it catch-on with a larger audience? Debatable (but probably not).
One of the cooler things about Ballie is its built-in 1080p projector and spatial LiDAR sensor. That means it’ll project movies and conference calls on the floor, wall, or any other hard surface. It also greets you at the door with the projected word “Welcome,” which I find to be really cute and heartwarming. Heck, you can even check up on your pet when you’re not home. Ballie will send you clips of whatever it sees in its immediate environment, including your beloved pooch. The tiny robot will even (supposedly) call for help in the event of a person falling down.
Ballie is, more or less, a mobile version of Google Home or Alexa. In terms of functions, Ballie can do what most smart assistants can do. It can turn the lights on or off, text your bosom buddies, and so on. The only real difference is that Ballie has a projector… and can follow you around like a curious cat. Nothing quite like being stalked by a smart bowling ball.
The earlier version of Ballie, which debuted back in 2020, looked more like a tennis ball made of Legos than a robot. The 2024 model has a more polished design. It’s also friendlier looking than its predecessor, which elicits feelings of genuine affection (at least from me!).
The following questions remain: How much will Ballie cost and when will it be available to buy? No word on either of those things as of yet, but I expect it’ll cost a pretty penny. Amazon’s Astro robot, for example, costs a whopping $1,599.99 and will likely be a direct competitor to Samsung’s Ballie.
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