KURI $700

Personal robot a handy helper within limits

A new generation of personal robots and devices is in the works. Among the more notable is Kuri, a robot developed by Redwood City, Calif., start-up Mayfield Robotics, which is controlled by Bosch.

Kuri looks a bit like Eve from Pixar’s film “WALL-E” but speaks in the beeps of R2-D2 and is designed as a cross between a supersmart pet and a personal valet. It will keep an eye on your house, follow you around or play music on command.

It’s not due out until December, but preorders are now being taken.

The robot has distinct limitations. Because it can’t speak real languages, it won’t replace personal assistants like Siri or Amazon’s Echo. Because it doesn’t have legs, it will be stuck on one floor of your house. And because it doesn’t have arms, it definitely won’t be folding the laundry or loading the dishwasher.

But the 20-inch-tall Kuri is designed to be smart. It has built-in cameras, microphones and speakers, along with a navigation system that will help it learn the layout of your house and go around obstacles. A facial-recognition system also lets it identify individuals in your household.

You can ask it to wake your son up or have it “read” a story to your kids — by playing an audiobook or replaying a recording of your voice. And using a smartphone app, you will be able to direct it when you are off-site to check to make sure all is well at home.


360 Panorama $2

Photo app takes great landscape views

The 360 Panorama app combines data from a phone’s movement sensors with a sequence of photos taken as you slowly spin around on the spot. The clever app then stitches together the photos into one final image that represents the entire spherical view of place you were standing.

You can save this image as a long, flat 2-D picture, or you can press a button inside 360 Panorama and it creates an eye-popping circular image that looks fantastic on Instagram, Facebook and elsewhere. The app can capture stunning vistas of landscapes or buildings, and guides people through the process of capturing the 20 or 30 photos needed to cover the field of view. It is iOS-only.