Thu, Dec 22, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Asustek to start taking Zenbo robot preorders

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Asustek Computer Inc chairman Jonney Shih, left, and Intel Corp New Technology Group vice president Achintya Bhowmik introduce Zenbo, a domestic robot developed and produced by Asustek, at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Cho Yi-chun, Taipei Times

PC maker Asustek Computer Inc (華碩) yesterday said its first voice-controlled robot, Zenbo, would be available for preorder in the consumer market on Jan. 1, meeting the company’s milestone to officially introduce the product.

The announcement came more than six months after Asustek chairman Jonney Shih (施崇棠) unveiled the robot at a news conference ahead of Computex Taipei in May.

However, Zenbo’s release date is slightly later than Shih’s promise to shareholders in June to introduce it to the market before Christmas, in a bid to contribute growth momentum to the company’s operations in the second half of the year.

“It took time to ensure that Zenbo is ready to be a home companion for Taiwanese consumers,” Asustek spokesman Nick Wu (吳長榮) told reporters after the product’s launch event.

Asustek continues to invite software and hardware developers to enrich content for Zenbo, he added.

The first batch of 168 Zenbos is to be available for preorder via Asustek’s Web site, priced between NT$19,900 and NT$24,900, Wu said, but added that a shipment date has not yet been confirmed.

Zenbo, which is powered by Intel Corp’s RealSense human-computer interaction technology, is to initially be focused on providing education and entertainment content, as well as home security functions, Wu said.

Asustek has inked an agreement with Benesse Corp to develop interactive educational games based on the Japanese company’s famous cartoon character Shimajiro, due to the character’s high popularity among children in Taiwan, he said.

Collaboration with the National Police Agency allows Zenbo to report to police via videoconferencing if there is an emergency situation in a home, Wu said, adding that Zenbo can also help users reserve rides through Taiwan Taxi Corp (台灣大車隊) and connect to PChome Online Inc’s (網路家庭) Web site for shopping.

Asked if the company still plans to launch Zenbo in China next quarter and in the US in the second quarter of next year, Wu said Asustek plans to focus on its home market and would expand the robot’s sales when the firm is ready.

The sales contribution from Zenbo to Asustek will be limited at launch in Taiwan, but is expected to gradually increase as the firm begins mass production of the robot in the first half of next year, Wu said.

Asustek shares yesterday remained unchanged at NT$263.5 in Taipei trading, while the TAIEX dropped 0.41 percent.

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