Have you ever wished you could combine a calorie calculator iPhone application with a stripped down Furby? Well, wish no more! The creators of a new part-dietician, (mostly) part-robot device found what may have been the final gap in the ever-expanding weight loss product market, and thus, Autom was born.
Unfortunately, the dream of owning such a charmingly bizarre diet pal may come to an end when you see the price tag. Autom will cost you $199. And that’s just for the bot. Users also pay a $19.99 monthly subscription for services. So what’s to keep dieters from settling for the cheaper, aforementioned iPhone application? Well, can your iPhone make eye contact with you, or try on mini-hats? I didn’t think so!
The creators of Autom also designed the device to have conversations with dieters, which the web site insists are personalized as users answer more questions about their eating and exercise habits. One commercial for Autom shows the device introducing itself: “Hi! My name is Autom. I’m a personal weight-loss coach. I will help you lose weight and keep it off forever.” It’s a phrase that sounds oddly menacing when coming from a robot; there’s something about the way “her” robotic voice drops on the word “forever” that’s a little shudder-inducing (Hey, I can’t be the only one who worries about what would happen if these things gained sentience).
Still, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea. If people want a robot to help them track their diet, Autom may be worth considering. If people want a robot to help them make healthy lifestyle choices, it may be best to look elsewhere. The advertising campaign for Autom focuses entirely on weight loss. In the four commercials on the product web site, “weight loss” was mentioned six times, but “health” and “nutrition” were not mentioned at all.
For $440 a year, one can maintain a lot of healthy habits and could even seek human support. Taking all of that into consideration, it begs the question: Is having a calorie calculator in a robot shell (which would make an excellent conversation piece at dinner parties) really worth the dough, or could that money be more positively spent?