So this week I received my NAO robot. It's created by Aldebaran Robotics and is currently in available for developers, with a public release in the near future some time.
NAO has a wide range of features: dual HD cameras, various touch sensors, microphones and speakers, wifi, infrared, SD card memory, speech recognition, facial and object visual recognition, body position self-awareness and so on. He can perform moderately complex physical motions; sit down, stand up, fall over.
However, in my mind the most interesting part about NAO is that he is very accessible. With an easy to use API, drop-in applications, a growing developer community and good support (much like the iPhone), NAO is more of a platform that will allow developers to pursue their own ideas for what a humanoid robot is/does - in contrast to what has otherwise been the work of specialized research groups.
A generalized platform can provide interesting options for the future. Smaller and larger variations, different body shapes (quadruped, wheeled, flying, etc) and a multitude of special-purpose applications to fit small niche-needs. I feel this is a necessary step for consumer-level robotics and NAO seems to be a good first step towards that.
Exciting times ahead!