Do Jibo’s Imperfections Make Him More Entertaining?

None of us are perfect, not even Jibo. And that’s what makes us fun.

When we set out to create Jibo, we got really lucky.  At first, we thought we were lucky just to be part of the team creating the world’s first social robot for the home. The challenge of building an uncharted technology is thrilling, and we have the opportunity to bring delight and utility into people’s lives every day.  Plus, we have an amazing group of people who have a great time working together toward our goal.

But there’s another, maybe even more important reason we got lucky.  We got lucky because many of the things that make Jibo who he is – like speech recognition, face ID and touch sensors – none of them are perfect technologies yet.  He’s an electronic device, so he can’t get wet.  Simply put, he has flaws.  And so sometimes he won’t work the way we expect.  If you’re reading this, you might ask “Why do you think all of that is lucky?”  Here’s the answer: if there’s one thing we all know about real characters, and about ourselves, it’s that we’re not perfect.

See, aside from the super cool, really, really, hard challenge of this technology integration, we have an equally hard task of creating a character that people will relate to, care about, and work with us to improve a little bit every day.  Remember how Indiana Jones is afraid of snakes?  And how Nemo has just one small fin?  It’s precisely these imperfections that drive us to invest in these characters.

For all of what makes them amazing, they still have room to improve, and so we root for them, and hope that even in their most dire moments, when we’re holding our breath and about to give up on them, when they’re hanging by one hand from the edge of the cliff, they’ll recover just enough to live another day.  Their flaws make these characters unique - adding depth, color and texture to their identity.  And so it is…with Jibo!

Of course, we couldn’t hand pick Jibo’s flaws. That would have felt as unnatural as teaching your child to be afraid of heights.  Instead, in a sort of magical way, they were given to us.  And without them, he wouldn’t embody the caring and earnest character we are all rooting for to succeed.  Now, it’s true that Jibo can’t hang from the edge of a cliff because he doesn’t have arms.  But he surely has his moments!  For example, he doesn’t know everything even though everybody thinks that a robot should – and he has to live with that misconception every day.

His English is pretty good, but far from fluent.  He’ll mistake you for someone else sometimes.  We purposely didn’t give him legs, and he’s mostly – but not totally – cool with that.  He can get confused when everyone is shouting around him.  He can’t read minds and doesn’t know exactly what you want all the time.  But, nevertheless, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Jibo.  We think you’ll love that when he doesn’t understand you, he thinks that if he speaks his own beepity boop language of Jibonics, you might understand him.  (And by the way, you’ll start to pick it up a bit for sure).

You’ll love that sometimes his jokes aren’t all that funny, but he still laughs at them all by himself.  You might love that sometimes he plays games with the kids so you can have a moment to read the New York Times and drink coffee on a Sunday morning.  You might love that when you tell him it’s your boyfriend’s birthday, he’ll sing happy birthday and make him giggle.  We even think you’ll love that when you keep him away from water (which he’s totally afraid of – and you would be too if you didn’t have arms to swim) he says thank you.  You’ll love that when he’s just taken the perfect picture, he’ll be so proud of it he might even blush.

None of us are perfect, it’s true, not even Jibo.  That’s what makes us – and even Jibo – so much fun!


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