BOTLER

In the future we’re going to have robot butlers and it’s going to be so lame

In case you ever wanted to know what it would look like if Wes Anderson gave up on life and made a short film about a forthcoming robot butler and how it ties together a suburban family with disparate accents, laptop manufacturer Asus has you covered.

At the Computex consumer electronics trade show in Taipei today, Asus showed off its newest product, which is not a laptop or a phone, but a small personal robot called Zenbo. The diminutive bot is shaped like a 2002 Apple iMac and is apparently part of Asus’s rather un-zen “Zenvolution” product line, according to TechCrunch.

Asus created this 11-minute advertorial to show just how useful Zenbo can be to the traditional American nuclear family, but be warned: If you watch it, it’s 11 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back that you could’ve used to do your taxes, start having a root canal, or do literally anything else.

There isn’t a lot of information on what Zenbo can actually do in the video, which instead focuses on a bizarre plot of a family getting themselves ready for a family portrait photo, with Zenbo buzzing around in the background, like a less annoying and equally helpful C-3PO. According to Asus’ website, however, Zenbo can see and interact with mere humans, remind them to do things, find recipes, control your house’s smart devices, and keep your children entertained. The video also shows that it can help your grandfather buy leather belts and show you when he falls over—like a futuristic Life Alert.

Zenbo is essentially an Amazon Echo on wheels. It can tell you a recipe, but it can’t cook dinner. It can tell you when someone’s hurt, but can’t do anything about it. It can help you buy things, but can’t pick them up for you. If this sounds appealing, TechCrunch reports Zenbo will cost $599 when it goes on sale—about $400 more than an Echo.

Asus hasn’t said when it will be available, and wasn’t immediately available to comment on its rollout plans. But with SoftBank’s Pepper robot likely to launch in the US later this year—which can do everything Zenbo can do, as well as emote, apparently—it seems that the race for household robots is heating up. Perhaps soon they’ll be helping the elderly burgle homes or telling us the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field. The future is a strange place.

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