Despite the multiple warnings we’ve seen in countless movies, lots of companies still want to populate our homes with robots. One of these is UBTech, a China-based robotics company that has been around since 2008. Their mission statement is to create those humanoid robots servants we have been collectively daydreaming about for years. Last Friday they showed off their latest products that will be available in Singapore. It was all very impressive, but a little bit creepy.
UBTech’s Cybermen, the Alpha 1 Pro
UBTech’s flagship product is the alpha series of robots. These little men are programmed to perform simple tasks, from dancing to push ups or read stories to your kids. The lasted, the Alpha 1 Pro, is more reinforced than the previous iteration and even includes an option to programme your own routines. There is even an option on the (at this point expected) companion app to share your routines with others. This aspect is rather cool because it’s a way to get those who would usually never think about coding into trying it out. It also helps that, for now, these robots are rather small and unlikely to rise against us just yet.
Unfortunately, even though a lot of the promotional material is very sweet, the robots are terrifying. It’s the face that makes it look like Doctor Who villain that get me in particular. Even making the robots line up and dance to Pokitaro’s Penpinapplepen didn’t do anything to shake that image from my head. This could just be a personal issue, but it really doesn’t come across as something family friendly. However, during the dance one fell over, which helped make them more palatable. If you want to get your hands on one of these, take note that they’re not cheap. The Alpha 1 Pro is retailing at 899SGD and can be found at the usual places like Tangs, Harvey Norman and Nübox.
In heavy contrast to the Alpha 1 Pro, the Jimu line of robots are absolutely adorable. They’re basically Lego robots that you can build. The app that comes with the robots has a handy guide to help you make the robot, but then you can tear it down and start it from scratch if you want. Like Lego, it’s just a guide. As with the Alpha 1, you can programme the robots to perform basic tasks and dance around. There is also a repository of user designs that you can upload to and take inspiration from. Designs range from vehicles, like cars or buggies, to animals and something close to a human.
Of the two lines, this is the one which captured my interest the most because it really gets how you can get children into robots, coding, design and everything else. It’s the lego magic. It also helps that unlike the Alpha 1, it doesn’t unnerve me at all. If this tickles your fancy, they are available across Singapore in the same locations as the Alpha 1. Prices range from SGD229 for the basic mini kit all the way up to the Inventors kit, which will put you back SGD659. Any parent who wants to get a toy that will teach your kids some valuable skills in this day and age should definitely check it out. Any adults who are into Lego would also get a real kick out of these.