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Samsung Unveils Ballie, A Tennis Ball Like Robot That Follows Its Owner

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Samsung has unveiled Ballie, a tennis ball-like robot that beeps while following its owner.


The device features an in-built camera that captures and stores “special moments”. The tech giant explained the features to an audience at the CES tech show in Las Vegas.


“I love this guy,” said president and chief executive of Samsung, H.S Kim as Ballie chased him around the stage.


Ballie can also act as a fitness assistant and could also help with chores. For example, it could activate smart home devices like robotic vacuums, whenever it determines that cleaning is required.


Comparisons are already being drawn with Ballie to robot companions from several Hollywood movies like BB-8 from the latest Star Wars trilogy.


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“It’s fun, it reminded me of a cross between a Sphero toy and R2-D2 with the sounds it was making,” Simon Bryant from market research firm Futuresource said.


He adds:


“How practical it is when it can’t go upstairs, I’m not sure.”


Bryant, however, says he thinks it is rather strange that Samsung is introducing Ballie, which has voice recognition capabilities, without mentioning its voice-activated virtual assistant Bixby, which is built-in to smartphones and TVs.

Ballie to adhere to privacy and data protection standards

“I can see a lot of people who will be hesitant with security and privacy concerns,” an analyst at IHS Markit Paul Gagnon said.


Samsung, however, says that Ballie would adhere to privacy and data protection standards.


The South Korean tech giants have not yet given a date for when Ballie would go on sale.


When asked if the time was right to launch the product, Samsung spokesman Benjamin Braun told the BBC:


“There are two technologies that are helping this come to life. One is artificial intelligence and the other one is 5G. Those [are] very much, focus areas for Samsung in 2020.”


Samsung also says it is seeking to develop new technologies for use in smart buildings and cities.


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