The personal robot Temi put in an appearance at IFA recently, alongside the news that it will go on sale worldwide October 1 for the confirmed price of US$1,500. Its makers call it the first truly-useful personal robot.

That may be true, depending on how much you make video calls and consume media, or more crucially, if you’d want to do those things using a waste-high screen that follows you around your house.

How it does that is rather impressive, though. Temi (styled tēmi, if you prefer) features an array of sensors to get its bearings and navigate its environment. To wit:

  • One 360-degree LiDAR
  • Two depth cameras
  • Two RGB cameras
  • Five proximity sensors
  • One IMU sensor
  • Six Time of Flight linear sensors

Left to its own devices it will explore and form a 2D map of the home, but crucially the user can tell Temi (pronounced tea-me) to remember particular locations. That done, say “Hey Temi – go to the kitchen” and Temi will do just that, cruel practical jokes notwithstanding.

But say “Hey Temi – follow me” and Temi will track the source of that command (the user’s face), then use its laser to track down to the user’s legs, which it is able to follow. Impressively, it won’t (in theory) be confused by someone else crossing its path – it will continue to follow the issuer of the command.

The personal robot Temi put in an appearance at IFA 2018

What you do with it when it gets where you want it is pretty much what you can do with a tablet, as that’s basically what Temi’s head is. It runs Android, though it’s not clear if it will run apps from the Google Play store. That may be unlikely as Temi’s makers plan to launch an app store for Temi itself.

The big-ticket features were video calling and media consumption, and the pitch is that a robot you can talk to is a more pleasant way to do this than prodding and poking a screen. In reality, whether the immediacy of a tactile device proves the more compelling remains to be seen, though we suspect so.

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