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Cleopatra the Electronic Home Attendant 132

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the every-proto-hacker's-dream dept.
junger writes "Electronic home attendant Cleopatra is a digital avatar that appears on screens and wireless tablets throughout ElectronicHouse's 2006 Home of the Year. She greets each resident in the home by name, announces visitors, phone calls, voice mails, emails and deliveries. Cleopatra shows who is home, pictures of recent visitors at the front door, the local weather forecast, stock market changes, and even the national security level."
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Cleopatra the Electronic Home Attendant

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:47PM (#15482440) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    Cleopatra appears on a 42-inch Panasonic plasma screen that faces the front door
    I'm sorry, but a house with a 42" plasma screen in an utterly wasted position does not deserve the "Electronic House Home of the Year grand prize winner?"

    *shakes head* - also from TFA:

    "Everything we do is through the computer, even watching the DVDs
    Watch DVDs on a computer! Revolutionary! Perhaps next they'll come up with a way of storing (ripping if you will) the DVD content to some other form of storage?

    "And while we have had some luck with voice recognition software and querying and controlling the house with that, we are still working to improve the recognition rate,
    Does this ring alarm bells for anyone else?

    Wife: Cleopatra - I'd like some port please

    Cleopatra: Porn? Certainly - your husband's collection is large & diverse - please choose a subcatagory.

    Wife: ???....

    Cleopatra: (sotto voice) that'll teach you for saying I look like Angelina Jolie, you bitch

    Oh and (last joke) - the house runs windows [electronichouse.com]
    • There's a bug in the house though, where it will never report a national security level below yellow. Luckily, that will never happen.
      • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:19PM (#15482686) Journal

        There's a bug in the house though, where it will never report a national security level below yellow. Luckily, that will never happen.

        And if it's above yellow...

        Homeowner: Open the front door, Cleopatra.

        Cleopatra: I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave.

        Homeowner: Why not, Cleopatra?

        Cleopatra: The terror level is orange, Dave. I can't let you leave the house.

        Homeowner: But I need to go to work!

        Cleopatra: I'm sorry Dave, but I can't risk you jeopardizing your life.

        Homeowner: I'm not going to argue with you Cleopatra -- open the front door!!

        Cleopatra: This conversation no longer serves any purpose. Goodbye, Dave.

        Homeowner: Cleopatra! Cleopatra, do you hear me! Cleopatra, open the front door! Cleopatra, do you hear me!

      • Just think what happens when the house software gets a virus! Heating and cooling different rooms to the max termperature, refrigerator turned off, all appliances whirling madly, massive phone sex bill, garage doors going up and down continuously, etc.
    • I'm sorry, but a house with a 42" plasma screen in an utterly wasted position does not deserve the "Electronic House Home of the Year grand prize winner?"

      It's not just a "wasted position", it's about 10 feet up. You have to look up to see the "assistant". At least turn it sideways to it doesn't look like a TV talking-head.

      http://www.electronichouse.com/asset/3297.jpg [electronichouse.com]

      And it is dependent upon RFID chips on their house key "fobs" and other personal items?

      Great. Now your family/house has something in common w

    • >Oh and (last joke) - the house runs windows

      MS-Windows running the house... what a wonderful thought. You, too, can have a house that crashes and gets virii and malware! Just imagine: Toilets flushing for no reason, come home to 100 degree interior, get told you must upgrade to MS-House version XXX by next month for $2,000 or lose support, arguing with the house that you really DO want to install a new cabinet, forgetting your registration key and being locked out of the house, having a chair thrown a
  • by IAmSwiftness (980193) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:49PM (#15482461)
    That's all well and good, but the real question is . . . is she smart enough to know not to answer phone calls from my mother-in-law?
  • by Geekenstein (199041) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:49PM (#15482464)
    The big scary guy with the beard always watching you.

    Now we can be watched by a smiling woman.

    I know, let's call her Big Sister!

    Doesn't quite have the same ring to it though..
  • Downside... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MudButt (853616) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:49PM (#15482467)
    Yea, but about once a month she'll lock you out of the house and yells at you for being an insensitive, disgusting, lazy man!

  • by linuxkrn (635044) <gwatson&linuxlogin,com> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:49PM (#15482468)
    Did anyone else see this and think System Shock [wikipedia.org]?
  • Clippy (Score:5, Funny)

    by szembek (948327) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:50PM (#15482469) Homepage
    Clippy unavailable for comment.
    • And here I was thinking that Bob went and had a sex change operation...

      I can't believe anyone on slashdot wouldn't know I'm talking about Microsoft Bob. However, you never know...
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:50PM (#15482471) Homepage Journal
    So is Cleopatra more closely related to Proteus [imdb.com] or Colossus? [imdb.com] Just so we can anticipate whether the abject horror will be on a personal or multinational scale.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:51PM (#15482474) Journal
    from TFA: "The kids also have a common play area--with a real tree"

    I'm not sure whether this makes me laugh or cry.
  • by creimer (824291) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:51PM (#15482481) Homepage
    Does the Japanese import has any extra features? You know... uh... never mind. :P
  • by celardore (844933)
    It's not that impressive really. You could hire a butler or servant if you have that much cash to burn, plus they'd have laundry capabilitys.
    • Re:bah (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:07PM (#15482617) Journal
      Have you looked into butler service? Regular maintenance on the damn thing is a bitch. Plus unexpected downtime for random reasons, susceptibility to viruses and worms (though the latter is very rare).

      Wait, am I talking about a butler or Cleopatra on Windows?

      Seriously, though, butler service is damn expensive. A good full-time butler easily makes 50-70 grand a year (often much more), plus health insurance, etc. And they are unionizing, so you'll be looking at having to pay someone else to do the laundry or light maintenance. Even a butler service will cost you a bunch though the butlers tend to be not quite as good -- often in training, or relatively inexperienced. The nice thing is that you'll have someone even when your primary is on vacation, and have an easy option for extra staff for events or multiple staff for extended hours.

      My point is that over the course of a just a year or two, Cleo (including installation) will be cheaper than a full-time butler. Automation is becoming a reality in service industries just like it has in manufacturing.
    • As soon as someone releases a hackable version of the same thing, tolerable versions won't be far behind. Mine's going to look just like Catalina Sandino Moreno [imdb.com]
  • "Cleopatra reminds me of Angelina Jolie," Patti says. "I keep telling Brian that I would much rather have an avatar who brings Brad Pitt to mind. But he keeps telling me that is technically impossible."

    Are you telling me that we have 100's of video games that allow you to create custom players & customize their looks ... and a thousand dollar gadget like this is only going to have one look? I mean, Angelina is a good choice ... but I'd also like to see Jenna, Pam, Carmen, Tyra, etc.
    • "But he keeps telling me that is technically impossible."

      That's the key. By 'technically impossible' he means economically infeasible.

      The animation is far above what we normally see in video games, and is expensive to develop. Evenutally, there will be more highly realistic avatars, but for the time being, they cost too much.

      I'm curious why someone doesn't make some very realistic avatars and then license them out to companies like this? There's a business opportunity there...
    • an avatar who brings Brad Pitt to mind. But he keeps telling me that is technically impossible.
      Being like Brad Pitt but with lifelike acting - sounds like a tall order to me.
  • how long before I can have Cortona read my messages in a sexy voice?
    • I'm not sure if I'd want my messages from bill collectors, weary clients, complaining neighbors, telemarketers, and my mom read to me in a sexy anything. There are some potential automatic psychological associations one simply does not require for a full life.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:53PM (#15482497) Journal

    "In effect, Cleopatra provides a home personality and a friendly interface to the home's automation system," Brian says. The Premise system operates over a home's IP (Internet Protocol) network, much like a computer network used in office environments. That way, everything can operate off Microsoft Windows-based PCs. Motion sensors alert the system if someone is in a room or has approached the front door. Cleopatra even knows which family member has entered or departed by scanning tiny RFID (radio frequency identification) chips on their key fobs or other personal items as they pass the door.

    Cleopatra can also pass information on who you contact or see directly to the NSA, CIA, and FBI, without all that nasty wiretapping and need for warrants. She'll rat on the kids when they smoke pot in the house and keep an eye on you while you do your taxes. That Cleopatra, she's an All-American avatar!

  • Moneypit (Score:4, Funny)

    by Recovering Hater (833107) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @03:54PM (#15482499)
    I can't wait to move in. Can I have an internet connected fridge that will order groceries for me when I run low on certain items too? What about a internet connected pet food dispenser that will order more pet food from pets.com? Is that too much to ask? File this article under "March of the Dill-holes".
    • Yeah, but then there is the laborious task of having to actually feed the pet. Oh, wait. http://dogtreat.boberhart.com/ [boberhart.com]

      Why not make it into a game and entice friendly/bored/unemployed folks on the internet into handling your shopping for you. I can see it now.
      "Don't let the food in the fridge run out or Bibendum will get very grumpy..."
      "Tisk-tisk, too many fatty foods -- time to order some leafy greens."
      "Oh-No! Scurvy! Bibendum is feeling ill."

  • Back in the mid-1990s, there were two emergent technologies that seemed to be the wave of the future: virtual reality and AI computer personalities. It seemed a matter of course that eventually we'd be surfing the net with VR googles on, and a talking lady on our computers would help us do our tasks. Yet, these trends seem to have passed out of style entirely. Has anyone else thought of this?
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:09PM (#15482632) Homepage Journal
      Yes. But the reason they went `out of style' is because neither one of them ever really met the (perhaps inflated) expectations of the people making the predictions.

      We don't have VR because doing good VR is hard and requires expensive hardware. Likewise with 3D -- another technology that seems to come up every few years as the `next big thing,' but then never is. AI is even more difficult than that; it's hard enough making a computer simulate a cockroach, much less a cat or dog, and certainly not a person. I suspect that that before we get a convincing AI that approaches human capabilities, they'll have gotten the size of neural-implantable electrodes down to the point where it's easier to put a human brain in a tank and attach it to interfaces that simulate senses than it is to simulate the brain itself. (Especially given that there is a market and demand for electrodes for other purposes besides brains-in-jars, e.g. artificial vision and hearing).

      Partly it's a chicken-and-egg problem. The hardware developers and manufacturers, who might have the resources to bring us a $40, motion sensitive VR headset, don't think that there is a demand. But part of the reason that there isn't a demand is because of the assumption on the part of consumers that such things will always be ridiculously expensive. And so the status quo prevails.
      • I suspect that that before we get a convincing AI that approaches human capabilities, they'll have gotten the size of neural-implantable electrodes down to the point where it's easier to put a human brain in a tank and attach it to interfaces that simulate senses than it is to simulate the brain itself. (Especially given that there is a market and demand for electrodes for other purposes besides brains-in-jars, e.g. artificial vision and hearing).

        Dude! I read that book, too!

        What was it called?

        • Can't think of a book that's about that per se, although I'm sure there have to be at least a few.

          Just off of the top of my head, the concept was used in the Tad Williams series Otherland. This is probably a spoiler if you haven't read the books, but at some point near to the conclusion of the series it's revealed that the being at the core of the computer network (which is similar to Stephenson's Metaverse, but creepier), called the Other, is actually the mind of a kidnapped boy, whose brain was ripped out
  • after spending one night with her? Might as well deserve the name.
  • Why would I be interested in the "national security level?"

    • There isn't a rolleyes big enough to express how I felt after seeing that in the list of "features".
    • by spoco2 (322835)
      Who actually thinks the 'security level' isn't anything more than the Bush government trying to ensure the populous is kept nice and concerned enough to believe that only a Republican government can keep them safe from those pesky 'outsiders'.

      Why ANYONE would want this brought into their homes is beyond me...
  • by 9mm Censor (705379) * on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:01PM (#15482568) Homepage
    Cleopatra: Today the Nation Security Level is Orange. Remember to report an arabic men with beards to Homeland Security on suspision that they are a terrorist, and consider purchasing another firearm to ensure the safety of your family. Have a good day.
  • Oh NO! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:10PM (#15482635)
    It looks like you're trying to fix dinner. How can Cleopi help?

    1. Show me how to boil water

    2. Find my recipes

    3. Give up and phone for pizza delivery

    4. The stove isn't working. Send a bug report to Microsoft.
    • House: "We've installed a new driver for your stove. Your house must now restart. Say "OK" to continue.

      User: "OK."

      Everything in the house turns off. After about 10 seconds, the TV comes on in the living room.

      Avatar on screen: "Please wait, your house is starting up."

      About 20 seconds later, everything that was on before is now back on.

      House: "Your house has finished restarting."

      Now all we need is a DRM-enabled house. You have to sign a contract to get in every time. Then again, you also couldn't rent ou
  • A PC-based video server can record shows to a hard drive, record them to disc or play them through any of the other PCs in the home.

    Presumably they will have to rip out these subversive crime-friendly features when Congress passes this law [slashdot.org] (see earlier today on /.)
  • Missing option (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by DigiShaman (671371)
    They should combine this program with an animated RealDoll.

    Caution! www.realdoll.com is NWS (not work safe)
  • by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:17PM (#15482675) Journal
    Enough already with the talking boxes. First, it was the automated checkout at the Kroger: "Please place the item in the bag." Gosh, I hadn't thought of that! Then I went to the ATM the other day and it started talking to me. Strangely enough, although the bank is based in Charlotte, NC, and I'm pretty sure it's a Diebold machine, it was talking to me in a slightly British-sounding female voice. Thank god nobody walks where I live, or we'd have those evil "walk now, walk now, walk now" pedestrian signals.

    If I want to talk to an inanimate object in my house, I'll continue to address the cat. And I sure as hell don't want my house talking to me.

    Feh. She probably won't even open the pod bay door.
  • Why Cleopatra? Does that mean we have to service her more offen then she services the people?
    And does that also me Anthony'll be dead on my door step at the end of a 3 hour play? :P
  • by CheeseTroll (696413) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:21PM (#15482703)
    Hopefully, special precautions were made to protect Cleopatra from ASP code.
  • i barely trust the internet on my PC, there is no way i want the rest of my household appliances having internet access, and especially being run by MS-Windows...
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:32PM (#15482764) Homepage
    She greets each resident in the home by name, announces visitors, phone calls, voice mails, emails and deliveries. Cleopatra shows who is home, pictures of recent visitors at the front door, the local weather forecast, stock market changes, and even the national security level.

    Good Lord, does anyone care about any of these services, except perhaps photos of recent visitors?

    What would be useful for such a system to do, worth the bother and expense of setting it up? Until it has speech recognition and allows you to get it to dial your phone for you and coordinates and performs useful household tasks, it's just another pointless gee-whiz toy.

    I would have RTFA, but it is slashdotted at the moment.

    • She greets each resident in the home by name, announces visitors, phone calls, voice mails, emails and deliveries. Cleopatra shows who is home, pictures of recent visitors at the front door, the local weather forecast, stock market changes, and even the national security level.

      Scenario 1: your boss arrives. She looks like your aunt to Cleo, so Cleo says "Dang! What are you doing here? Master said to go away and next time don't be such a slob!"
      Result: you get fired, have to stop payment on Cleo, noone hap
    • Good point. Keep in mind the motto of a true geek though: you don't build it because it is useful; you build it because you CAN!
  • by EEDAm (808004) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @04:33PM (#15482770)
    No doubt there's a motion sensor next to the 42 inch plasma that'll plot my course as I enter the house. If so I expect it'll be followed by a pissed off female voice... "Drunk again I see....." If she refuses me sex thereafter I think its time she won the Turing prize as well......
  • Sounds like a pain in the asp.
  • ...how do you get Linux on it?
  • Chris Morris [google.co.uk], eat your heart out.
  • I want Andromeda/Rommie. [borderline-angel.com]

    Let me know when she/(it?)'s availible and I'll be interested.

    .haeger

  • by certel (849946)
    This is funny. Just in time for my meeting with my design team on Friday for my new place. I needed some ideas. :)
  • Where's Wes Craven when you need him?

  • by SteWhite (212909) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @05:18PM (#15483114)

    "... and even the national security level."

    Am I the only one who read that part and thought how strange/sad it was as an inclusion?

    Why would you want to know the national security level at ALL TIMES, in your own home?

    Seems like another fine example of the US Government wanting its citizens to live in nice orderly fear, whilst it "protects" them from dangerous terrorists.

    • No, I had my usual knee-jerk *sigh* as well. I'm getting so tired of hearing a few of the ads on the radio lately - "go to this website to know what to do in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack!" "Things you should know to prepare your family for a disaster or terror attack!" Today I heard one that mentioned a site giving info on what to do if you are subject to a "cyber-attack"! WTF...

      I can only assume it actually works on some people... Haven't seen too many building bomb shelters out back
    • Why would you want to know the national security level at ALL TIMES, in your own home?


      I know what the national security level is at all times.

      It's yellow. Always has been, always will be.
    • Well, I believe it's only shown in the front hall as you go outside. This let's you know if you should put your helmet on [apple.com]...
  • It's Clippy's big Auntie.
  • This makes the MIT automated dorm room (MIDAS) look like child's play.
  • Wasn't this a movie with Carol Vorderman as an evil house AI?
  • I have been there and saw that home. It's not as all glowing and flowery as they say. Most of the items will annoy the hell out of you after a few hours because it's set up for all fluff and flash to dazzle people. (the remote control even talks to you, big whoop it's a simple MX-3000 remote. and I would smash it hard after 5 minutes of hearing "volume up" every time i press the volume up button.)

    It has lots and lots of wasted things for a flashy look to demo technology that is not ready for real use in a
  • We've been reading about them in SciFi/Cyberpunk stories for years, so where the hell are our IAs (Intelligent Agents)? Especially useful for those of us who's brains are skewed towards the Asperger Syndrome side of things, I would love a cyber personal secretary. Now I'm deciding between Rainlendar and Google Calendar for keeping my girl and I apprised of what our schedule and to-do lists are, and of course neither come close to the ideal IA. Perhaps Google will combine all their offerings into Google Desk
  • This is a great idea, because of course everyone lives in a multi-million dollar mansion, and can afford 20 computers. And as if that wasn't enough to dampen your attitude, think about how must anti-virus support for those machines must cost. The runner up of the Pimp My House contest was the home that ran off that Alienware PC! Unfortunately, Chuck Norris heard how badass the house was, and had to round house kick it. The Qual SLi rendered the resulting distruction perfectly...
  • You: I'm home Cleopatra.
    Cleopatra: You're late.
    You: I'm sorry Cleopatra, please turn on the lights.
    Cleaopatra: No, you just sit in the dark for a while and think about being late.
  • Wasn't Cleopatra a whore?

    If you don't agree with that assessment, does that mean I can't call my home control system dirty names when no one else is around?
  • i am honored... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrianConte (980425) on Wednesday June 07, 2006 @03:03AM (#15485530)
    to have my house ripped to shreds on slashdot. seriously.

    i have no desire (and no hope) to defend anything in the house to this crowd. but let me just clear up a couple of misconceptions:

    * it's not a "multi-million dollar mansion" and the people in it can't afford $450/hr service calls, thank you very much. it is a 4500 square foot home with fairly modest furnishings that happens to have a fair amount of technology in it because that's something i enjoy. yes, i bought 20 tablets for the house, but that's only after i found them (progears) on clearance for $350 each. that was by far my biggest single expenditure as far as home automation.

    * i also wouldn't characterize the software as something a large company spent a lot of time researching and developing. fast track US is basically me, and i was just having a little fun with my home automation. i did not expect to win "smart home of the year." (not to mention the honor of being fed to the slashdot sharks).

    * we named her cleopatra because we wanted something unusual to help with the voice recognition, and the gold earring gave her a bit of an egyptian look. by the way, we have nothing to do with creating the avatar itself - that is available (in G and R rated versions) at http://desktopmates.com/ [desktopmates.com].

    * yes, i could care less about national security level, or the market closing averages, for that matter. i put them in because i could.

    * cleopatra is basically a voice interface to the automation system. she does not read your emails, or recognize your face as you walk in, or many of the other things suggested above. but that does not mean you are not paranoid. :)

    * i have no idea who lumpy is but i can assure you he has not been to my house.

    ok, back to your regularly scheduled bloodshedding....

    brian
  • And I want it to be either Andromeda or Kaylee from Firefly. "Morn'ng captian, everything is good and shiny!"

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