Samsung’s Ballie Robot Rolls Back with AI and A Projector at CES 2024

Samsung’s Ballie 2.0 seems to be bigger and smarter—but will it roll Into reality or remain a CES dream?

In this age of AI and smart devices, we are seeing innovations like the Rabbit R1 and Humane’s AI Pin redefining our daily interactions with technology. Adding to the list of AI-powered personal assistants is Samsung’s Ballie robot, a “sphere” of innovation and personal assistance. 

Originally making its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2020, Ballie rolled back into the spotlight at CES 2024, sporting significant upgrades. Notably, it has expanded from the size of a tennis ball to that of a bowling ball, requiring a two-handed lift. Beyond its increased size, the new Ballie is now AI-equipped and boasts a built-in 1080p projector. However, Samsung opted for a video demonstration of Ballie’s enhancements at CES 2024, unlike its live unveiling in 2020.

What can Samsung’s Ballie robot do?

Unlike a conventional projector, Ballie can cast images onto floors, ceilings, walls and white screens. According to The Verge, Samsung shared in a press release that Ballie can adapt its projection based on its distance from the wall and ambient lighting conditions. It’s heralded as the first projector worldwide capable of detecting a person’s posture and facial orientation, adjusting the projection angle accordingly for an optimal viewing experience. 

In its demo, Ballie showcased its versatility by entertaining pets with bird videos, projecting video calls on walls and offering workout routines for fitness buffs, all without needing a separate screen.

But there’s more. Ballie takes smart home management to new heights, capable of controlling gadgets like lights, air conditioners, blinds and pet food dispensers via Samsung’s SmartThings platform. Users only have to send a voice or text command, and Ballie will spring into action. 

Beyond projection, Ballie can control smart home gadgets, such as lights, air conditioners, blinds and pet food dispensers, connected to Samsung’s home automation platform, SmartThings. All you have to do is send a command via voice message or text. It can project information collected from your smart home devices, such as air quality, stream video from your doorbell, display calendar events, place phone calls and even reveal the contents of your Samsung smart fridge.

Moreover, Ballie keeps you informed about its actions, tracks your pet’s movements and can even call for help if it detects someone has fallen and remains unresponsive.

With its playful design and pet-like behaviors—it follows you around at home and greets you when you come home—Ballie takes the companion robot/AI assistant category to the next level, fostering an emotional bond with users. 

The evolution of Ballie’s design

The 2024 version of Ballie has transformed from its original ball droid form to a spherical device on three wheels, akin to a robot vacuum. The design modification and increase in size accommodate a larger battery and an integrated projector. It cleverly fixes the sphere’s structure on the sides for wheel attachment while maintaining rotational capability for its front-mounted camera/projector.

As per Ars Technica’s report, the new Ballie appears to feature five sensors on its front visor, with the central rectangle serving as the projector, flanked by two cameras for stereo vision. The functions of the other sensors, likely for navigation and possibly including time-of-flight capabilities, remain hinted at. The rear of Ballie features several openings, indicating a speaker system and departing from the typical robot vacuum design by forgoing visible docking and charging contacts.

A distinctive disc on Ballie’s top, surrounded by a light ring and capable of elevation, adds to its mystique. This feature, potentially incorporating LiDAR technology, could enhance Ballie’s navigation and object avoidance skills.

Yet, skepticism brews 

Ballie has undoubtedly captured our curiosity as a potential jack-of-all-trades gadget. Still, its real-world effectiveness remains shrouded in mystery due to CES 2024’s controlled demonstrations. The lack of hands-on experiences for the press and the rehearsed nature of the demos leave us pondering Ballie’s real-world capabilities and potential drawbacks. Also, its larger size may limit its utility in snug spaces, sparking debates over its practicality against dedicated devices.

Furthermore, Samsung has yet to clarify key consumer concerns such as the gadget’s market availability or pricing. This leads to a broader skepticism: does Ballie truly offer novel functionality that distinguishes it from sophisticated smartphones or other dedicated devices, whether it be as a projector or a pet sitter? 

While these thoughts remain speculative, they certainly warrant consideration as we navigate the evolving landscape of AI-assisted living. Hopefully, Samsung’s Ballie will stop teasing us and soon make an actual leap into our homes. 

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Header Image by Samsung’s Ballie Robot Projector

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