Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: CES 2020: The Big Trends for Business

CES 2020: Samsung rolls out 'Ballie' the robot to demo its vision for human-centered tech

The small, rolling robot with on-device AI capabilities demonstrates Samsung's vision of robots as "life companions," Samsung President and CEO H.S. Kim said at CES

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The next decade will usher in the "age of experience," Samsung President and CEO H.S. Kim declared at CES 2020 on Monday night. Samsung intends to remain a technology leader in this era, he said, by creating products and services that create meaningful, personalized experiences for consumers. To showcase what those products could look like, Kim literally rolled out Ballie, a small, rolling robot with on-device AI capabilities. 

Ballie is "more than just a cute robot," Kim said as the device -- a cross between a tennis ball and R2-D2 -- followed him around on stage. The robot he said, is "a vision of technology as an all around personal life companion."

The robot represents the next evolution of the Internet of Things (IOT), Samsung's leaders explained in the CES keynote. Ballie actively helpful, reminding you of an upcoming meeting, or patrolling your home to keep you safe. He could serve as a fitness assistant, or as a remote control to help seniors connect to other smart devices. 

Samsung envisions "robots that know you, support you, and take care of you, so you can focus on what really matters," Kim said. 

On-device AI is "central central to truly personalized experiences," said Sebastian Seung, EVP and Chief Research Scientist at Samsung. "On-device AI puts you in control of your information and protects your privacy. This is our longterm vision for AI-enabled products... Of course we want Ballie to be fun, smart and helpful. We walso want Ballie to keep our secrets."

In addition to technology focused on the individual, Samsung's vision for the "age of experience" encompasses smart home technology and smart city innovations. 

Within the home, Samsung is using AI, sensors and data to create immersive experiences. 

"It is often said there is no place like home," said Federico Casalegno, Chief Design Innovation Officer of Samsung Design Innovation Center. With intelligent home technologies, he said,"there will be no other place like yours."

Casalegno led a demonstration of Samsung's GEMS (Gait Enhancing & Motivating System) technology, showing how consumers could use AR glasses, paired with an exoskeleton with powerful software, to work out with a virtual personal trainer within their home. 

"The goal isn't to add more devices and products," he said. It's to "live better with more intuitive and simplified technologies." 

Samsung's vision for smart cities, meanwhile, focuses on leveraging AI, IOT and 5G to create more energy efficient, sustainable living spaces. The company is partnering with builders and property managers like Greystar Real Estate Partners in the US to create smart building solutions.