×

CES: Samsung Unveils Ballie, a Rolling Robot That Acts as a Home Assistant

Is this the droid you’re looking for?

Samsung Electronics outlined a vision for a future of human-centered technology during a CES 2020 kickoff keynote — starring Ballie, a small, yellow rolling robot reminiscent of BB-8, the spherical Star Wars droid that made its first appearance in “The Force Awakens.” The name also conjures up the automaton hero of Pixar’s “Wall-E.”

Hyun-Suk Kim, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics, described the company’s vision of robots as “life companions” in introducing Ballie to the stage. The camera-equipped rolling robot is designed to react to a user’s needs and to be actively helpful around the house, working as an assistant and a “remote control” for smart-home devices. Kim demonstrated Ballie following him around the stage like a puppy. “I think he likes me,” Kim chuckled.

Samsung is positioning Ballie as an example of the next iteration of the “internet of things” that is focused on enhancing the health and well-being of consumers. In a video accompanying Kim’s demo, Ballie is shown opening blinds in the morning; assisting a woman in a yoga pose by streaming video of her to Samsung’s self-rotating Sero TV; playing with family’s corgi; and cleaning up spilled cereal by invoking a Roomba-style vacuum. (The video is soundtracked with “The Blue Danube,” famously used in “2001: A Space Odyssey” — a cheeky reference to the movie’s menacing HAL 9000 computer.)

Samsung didn’t provide info on pricing or availability of Ballie. During the keynote, a disclaimer on the screen behind Kim noted that the actual features in the product may differ from what appeared in the demo.

Popular on Variety

“We believe AI is the future of personalized care,” Sebastian Seung, chief research scientist at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement. “We see on-device AI as central to truly personalized experiences. On-device AI puts you in control of your information and protects your privacy, while still delivering the power of personalization.”

Samsung’s Ballie has a pet-like quality, responding to commands with chirps instead of a human voice. Indeed, it looks to be the Korean consumer-electronics company’s answer to Sony’s AIBO robotic dog companion.

More Digital

  • Ted Sarandos Milestone Award PGA

    Netflix Leader Ted Sarandos Plans Broader Creative Push for the Future

    Ted Sarandos, who has helped to upend the way audiences receive and consume entertainment as Netflix’s chief content officer, will be honored with the Milestone Award at the 31st annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 18. Game-changers including Steven Spielberg, Sherry Lansing, Robert Iger, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ron Meyer have previously received the recognition, and [...]

  • peacock-ads-NBCU

    NBCU's Peacock Marks Media's Latest Try to Connect Consumers, Commercials

    In an era when consumers feel more empowered to avoid TV commercials, NBCUniversal is the latest media company to try to get them to bring ads back into their TV lives. One of the key selling points of big streaming-video services like Netflix and Disney Plus is that subscribers don’t have to endure the commercial [...]

  • OTT.X - Mark Fisher

    Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) Gets Renamed OTT.X With Expanded Scope

    The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) home-video retailing trade group has changed its name to OTT.X, The Over The Top Exchange. The new name reflects the org’s broader scope and community to adapt to the evolution of the home-entertainment ecosystem, according to Mark Fisher, president and CEO of OTT.X. The group’s new website is at ottx.org. [...]

  • UFC 246 - McGregor vs Cerrone

    UFC Inks Facebook Pact for Exclusive Content to Push Pay-Per-View Fights (EXCLUSIVE)

    UFC has upped its investment in original content for Facebook — where it has more than 26 million global followers — to try to convert more mixed martial arts fans into premium pay-per-view buyers. Under the one-year deal between UFC and Facebook, the MMA promoter is producing three original shows for Facebook Watch. All of [...]

  • Peacock Launch: NBCUniversal Tries New Way

    Peacock Launch: NBCUniversal Tries New Way to Deliver Old-Fashioned Bundle of TV

    In the big unveiling Thursday on the “Saturday Night Live” stage at 30 Rock, NBCUniversal leaders described Peacock as a 21st century iteration of a broadcast network. For sure, the Comcast answer to the streaming wars is taking a broadcasters’ approach to programming and distributing the service that Comcast hopes might eventually represent the next [...]

  • Sorry for Your Loss - Elizabeth

    'Limetown,' 'Sorry For Your Loss' Canceled at Facebook Watch

    Facebook Watch has canceled two of its shows amid a scaling back of its scripted content. Both “Limetown” and “Sorry For Your Loss” have been canceled after their first and second seasons respectively, Variety has confirmed. Based on the podcast of the same name produced by Two Up, “Limetown” followed Lia Haddock (Jessica Biel), a journalist [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content