It wouldn’t be CES without Samsung showing off a strange and strangely lovable robot, and this year is the same. At its CES 2024 press conference today, the company showed off a robot named Ballie that has a projector built in. Interestingly, though, according to a report from The Washington Post, Samsung said the robotic sphere will actually be available for sale within the year.
We first saw an early iteration of Ballie in 2020, when Samsung brought the device onstage, with an executive cupping the oversized tennis ball-like gadget in their hands. When it was introduced back then, Ballie was touted as a household assistant and potential fitness assistant, with such sophisticated skills as opening smart curtains and turning on the TV. It was supposed to also be able to call for help if it sees a person has fallen and not gotten up.
In four years, Ballie appears to have grown up. It’s now “bowling-ball-size,” according to the Post, and has a spatial LiDAR sensor and a 1080p projector. The latter has two lenses and allows the robot to display movies, video calls and “greetings” on its surrounding surfaces. In a video shown during the keynote, Ballie greets a user who returns to their home by projecting the word “Welcome,” as well as displaying a conference call, workout video and the contents of a nearby PC, like a secondary screen. In an adorable scene, it also showed the robot projecting a video of greenery on to the floor for a golden retriever sat across from it.
Samsung also showed people controlling Ballie by speaking to it, as well as via text messages. In its replies, Ballie was sending clips of what it saw, like the activity of a pet left at home. Like the earlier model, the newer robot can automatically switch connected lights and gadgets on or off, as well as non-connected appliances with its infrared transmitter.
Ballie was reminiscent of a similar product that LG showed off in 2016 called the Rolling Bot, but that short-lived device never made it to market. It’s quite hard to believe that Samsung will be selling these in 2024, but it hasn’t shared any details beyond what it told The Post, and pricing has also yet to be revealed. Still, it’s nice to see a product go from adorable concept to plausible prototype and possibly be able to buy it soon.
We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.