When I was little, I had this tiny remote-controlled robot that was merely a rolling tray with a robotic head on it. I’d put small things on it like a sock or a snack, hide behind a corner and deliver it, rather clumsily, to a sibling or parent. It had to be on a completely smooth surface and it got stuck 80 percent of the time, but I still thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

Well, it’s a few decades later and, oh man, what it would be like to be a kid today, especially here at #CES2015.  Robots, and I mean real ones, are everywhere you look. And they are bringing genuine interactions to the forefront of everything from education to companionship. Here are a few of the coolest:

  • Tiny little Ozobot is no bigger than a ping pong ball, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to the potential for getting kids excited about robotics and coding. How? This little fella gets programmed through colors and patterns. Each pattern is associated with a specific movement that Ozobot performs. You can even program Ozobot to do the cha-cha. Move over, Derrick Hough. Could “Dancing with the Robots” be the next popular reality competition on ABC?
  • I’ve talked enough in previous blogs about helper bots (and cats on Roombas). It’s time for robots to transform into companions. A great example is Jibo, who is dubbed the “first family robot” and can interact with you by answering questions, taking photos and keeping you company while you’re cooking, doing homework or watching TV. The first shipment of Jibos is underway, and I’ll be curious to see how they integrate with families around the world.
  • If C-3PO came to fruition, his name would be Pepper. In 2015, Softbank will begin selling what it calls a humanoid robot, Pepper, developed by Aldebaran. This creation seemingly takes the artificial out of artificial intelligence. Pepper actually learns how to read moods from facial cues and previous experiences. Pepper (gender-neutral by design) is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Japanese. Never fear; Pepper is designed, not to steal your job, but to be an additive part of your human experience.  

Just think of the potential applications for robotics to help us all live better lives, from the classroom to the living room. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to what happens this year as more and more of them make their way into their new homes. Will yours be one? Make sure to share your insights and experiences online using #CES2015. See you there!