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Home / Features / Stuff meets… Enabot’s Zhu Hong

Stuff meets… Enabot’s Zhu Hong

Enabot Co-Founder and COO talks life as an entrepreneur and mother in Shenzhen, creating robots as companions and learning to play the piano

Enabot EBO X

In this interview we meet the woman behind the EBO X – the family robot companion connects families remotely, guards homes and plays with kids and pets. Zhu Hong shares how the human need for companionship was at the heart of the idea for Enabot and how the EBO X has strengthened the bond between her and her daughter.

I live in Shenzhen, the tech hub of China, and every inch of my home is precious to me

I’m concerned about the proper disposal of items and the potential consequences of excessive waste generation, so I’ve embraced a minimalist style at home. I want my home to exude a natural and warm ambiance and prefer tech devices that seamlessly integrate into my daily life. 

I am open to cutting-edge technology, but it must be “natural”. For instance, I enjoy the first rays of sunlight streaming in when I open the curtains in the morning, as well as the occasional glimpse of the moonlight when I close the curtains at night. So, I opt not to have automatic curtains in my room. However, in my daughter’s room – too hard to be minimalistic – where the window area is filled with her toys and books, I chose automatic curtains for convenience. 

I’ve always been interested in products that bring about disruptive innovation

Once I find such a product, I tend to stick with it for many years until it eventually malfunctions. I’ve held onto my first-generation iPad, the inaugural Apple Watch, the original AirPods, a modular-designed smartphone, and even the first-generation mopping robot, etc. These items mark the starting points where I got to know new technological areas. While I keep an eye on the continuous development of technology and product iterations, I usually don’t make it a habit to purchase every new model. 

Discovering how things work is what I do 

I had a passion for math during my primary school years and found myself drawn to physics in high school. Naturally, when it came time for university, I pursued a major in engineering. The love for exploring how things work has been a constant thread throughout my academic and professional journey. I’ve been immersed in the world of technology, and it’s a passion that I continue to pursue and will always be a part of my journey.

The human need for companionship was at the heart of the idea for Enabot 

Shenzhen holds a unique status in China as a migrant city, drawing citizens from various other cities and towns. Many of us, including myself, have our parents living in different cities. Given this situation, numerous individuals in Shenzhen choose to have pets for companionship. Within the depths of our minds, we yearn for a strong family bond, recognizing its significance as it is not easily attainable.

Having been part of the robot industry for several years, I’ve witnessed diverse applications in sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, and professional services. The evolution of sensor technology, robotics, AI, and the supply chain has paved the way for a timely integration of robots into our personal lives. In response to the changing landscape, our brand concept, “Always Together,” embodies our commitment as a warm tech enterprise dedicated to serving millions of modern families globally.

More than just a technological advancement, I believe that Enabot Robots can play a vital role in enhancing our family lives. As someone who embraces minimalism, I find it worthwhile to invest in Enabot robots, aligning with the belief that technology can enhance our daily experiences and foster connection within our families.

As a mother and entrepreneur, I aim to balance my roles and ensure I don’t miss out on the precious moments of my daughter’s growth.

With our parents residing in different cities and the challenges of business trips keeping us away from our kids and pets, we felt the need for an additional “presence” at home. The initial concept for the companion robot was born out of this desire – a way for us to remotely interact with our parents, engage with our kids, and provide entertainment for our pets. 

As technology, especially AI, advanced, we saw an opportunity to imbue the robot with more intelligent features. This evolution would enable the robot to not only serve as a companion but also assist in managing our home autonomously. In the midst of middle age, where responsibilities include caring for the elderly, children, and pets, having an assistant to alleviate our workload became increasingly crucial. Importantly, the benefits extend to our parents, kids, and pets, offering them security, companionship, and entertainment through the capabilities of the robot.

Being a woman in the tech industry, achieving a balance between work and life is a top priority for me. Family robots play a pivotal role in making this balance possible and are essential to my lifestyle.

EBO X has strengthened the bond between my daughter and I 

In my own home, EBO X serves as a valuable assistant in managing household tasks, such as scheduling reminders, performing patrols, capturing and recording family lives. Its capabilities extend beyond mere functionality – I use it to express care and share news with my parents, fostering interaction with my kids even when I’m away. The dynamic physical presence of the robot, capable of moving around the home, injects more vibrancy and passion into our living space.

This proves especially beneficial for my parents, who are not entirely familiar with smartphones or computers; the robot provides an easier avenue for them to connect with the outside world, accessing internet content through voice commands rather than typing on a screen. 

For my daughter, EBO X offers a unique form of interaction by sparking and nurturing her curiosity. Additionally, my daughter and I jointly own the family robot, creating an additional bond between us. I’ve consistently sought out more connections to strengthen the bond with my daughter.

Despite its playful aesthetics, the robot is designed to eventually stand firmly on its feet, both in terms of appearance and functionality.

Initially, we made a critical decision that distinguishes our “robot” from typical electronic devices. It is imperative for our robot to possess the ability to “take care” of itself, encompassing tasks such as self-charging and maintaining a 24-hour standby capability. The rounded design prioritizes safety for all family members in a household setting. The tumbler design ensures friendliness toward kids and pets, presenting a vivid and, at times, intentionally unstable appearance reminiscent of a playful baby. 

It’s never too late to start something new – I’m learning the piano 

Shenzhen is a city with many hills. Even in the city center, there are green trails suitable for hiking. I enjoy hiking on weekends. I also make an effort to dedicate a little time to playing the piano every day, either in the morning or at night. When I was young, I always admired friends who could play the piano. For a long time, I carried a sense of regret for not learning it during my childhood. There’s often a societal bias suggesting that certain pursuits must begin in childhood, and if we miss that window, it’s lost forever. However, in 2020, when I gathered the courage to start learning the piano, I realized how happy I was to challenge that bias. I adjusted my perspective, understanding that it’s never too late to start something new and pursue passions at any age. Currently, my piano skills are still at the beginner level, but I’m excited about the progress I’ve been making.What adds an extra layer of interest is that my daughter is a beginner violin player. We occasionally play music together, creating another special bond between us.

Find out more about Enabot here.

Profile image of Rachael Sharpe Rachael Sharpe Commissioning Editor, Stuff magazine

About

Rachael is a British journalist with 19 years experience in the publishing industry. Before going freelance, her career saw her launch websites and magazines spanning photography through to lifestyle and weddings. Since going freelance she’s sloped off to Devon to enjoy the beaches and walk her dog and has contributed to some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines, while specialising in technology and lifestyle. It was inevitable she would graduate to Stuff at some point.

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