Tech

Samsung shows off bizarre fitness exoskeleton and rolling robot at CES

Key Points
  • Samsung talked a lot about the future at its CES 2020 press conference on Monday evening.
  • It unveiled a friendly home robot named Ballie that can roll around your house and has cameras on it.
  • It also talked about an exoskeleton system called GEM that works with augmented reality glasses.
  • It's unclear if any of the products will actually launch.
Samsung Rollie robot
Samsung

Samsung held a buzzword-riddled press conference at CES 2020 on Monday evening where it talked a lot about future experiences it hopes to deliver to consumers, but provided little detail on whether any of it is coming to the market anytime soon.

There were a couple of fun highlights, including a mini home robot ball named "Ballie" and Samsung's vision for the future of fitness workouts and augmented reality glasses that can overlay digital content on top of the real world.

It's refreshing to see Samsung discuss some of its more futuristic ideas, instead of just outlining a bunch of new TVs and refrigerators like it normally does at CES. But Samsung didn't really talk about any of this actually coming to market anytime soon. Instead, it just seemed to show off what it's building in its research labs.

Here's a look at what Samsung showed off at CES.

Samsung Ballie

Samsung Rollie robot
Samsung

Samsung introduced Ballie as a tiny rolling robot ball, sort of like a mini BB-8 from "Star Wars," with cameras that can follow you around the house as a so-called "life companion." Samsung described all sorts of ways Ballie might one day help you, from recognizing if your floors are dirty and automatically activating a robot vacuum in your house, to somehow serving as a "fitness assistant."

But Samsung was slim on details on what it can actually do besides roll around and record you, or serve as entertainment for your pet. It reminds me a lot of LG's Rolling Bot prototype which was introduced at CES 2016 and was basically the same thing. LG's robot never launched, and it doesn't seem likely Samsung will release Ballie any time soon, if it does so at all.

However, personal robots are a budding trend throughout the industry. For example, Amazon is said to be working on its own home robot that acts like an Amazon Echo that can follow you around the house. Bloomberg first reported details of Amazon's robot plans in 2018.

Samsung GEM

A virtual reality trainer assists a representative in exercising using GEMS, Gait Enhancing and Motivation System, during a Samsung press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker | Getty Images

Samsung showed off its vision for augmented reality (glasses that can overlay digital content on top of the real world), with a so-called Gait Enhancing & Motivation" (GEM) outfit that pairs with the headset. Samsung envisions a future where the GEM can help people in recovery learn how to walk. But it's also touted as a fitness system.

Samsung showed examples where it has been testing versions of this with people in recovery in research experiments, though none of the people in its example videos were wearing the glasses, which suggests it's not fully operational yet.

Samsung said trainers could use data from the system to improve workout results and that people could use them to workout wherever they want. It envisions a future where a smart kitchen could use the data from your workout to suggest healthy recipes after. I'm not sure people even want any of this.

Samsung glasses at CES 2020
Samsung

Samsung briefly showed what appeared to be a prototype of another pair of AR glasses that it suggested can help improve vision, but didn't explain much about the product.

It was semi-entertaining to see what Samsung thinks people will want in the future, but without any details on if this stuff will ever actually launch, or how much it will cost, it also felt like Samsung was just filling up time.

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