If there's one thing that separates Asus from its competitors, it's the company's willingness to experiment with new designs.

Asus has had a few big hits that the rest of the industry followed, like the Eee PC in 2008, which sparked the craze for netbooks. Other products have fared less well, like the PadFone, a hybrid device that includes a smartphone that docks into a tablet.

But year after year, in a hardware industry that shies away from risk, Asus usually has a surprise or two up its sleeve. Last week it was ahome help robot called Zenbo, whose cute antics and affordable price-tag stole the show at Computex.

I sat down with Asus Chairman Jonney Shih in Taipei last week and asked him how he approaches both business and product design – which you can watch above – before moving onto talking about the Zendo – watch this below.

Jonney said he saw the robot as an evolution in computing -- something that followed on from the PC era, mobile computing, and the recent so-called Internet of Things.

"Up to IoT, I think most of the devices are still passive," he says. "I think there should be an animal evolving ... that can move and be more proactive computing."

Zenbo is Asus' first attempt at building that. "I think this is the right time, that's why we spent a lot of effort," he said.

A core focus of the development work was designing the robot to appear approachable.

That's why its face is a screen that can show a lot more computerized emotion than a traditional robot, he said. It does this through a set of large eyes and an almost perpetual smile that makes Zenbo appear cute. It's a contrast to the Pepper robot from Aldebaran Robotics (below), which has a fixed face and screen mounted on its chest.

But even with the best industrial design in the world, the robot won't sell unless it's useful. In coming up with a sample series of apps, Asus has targeted Zenbo toward every member of the family, Jonney said.

Its features include functions for all age groups. It will read stories and play games with kids; for the elderly it can call family members for help or assistance; and for all members of the family, it can play music, present recipes, answer questions, and control the home's lights and TV.

That's a nice start, but Asus really needs to get app developers on board to start playing with the robot and dreaming up numerous other applications.

With its launch at Computex, Asus is hoping to attract software development ahead of a planned launch later this year. Zenbo will likely be available only in Taiwan at first, but sales could spread to other countries depending on its success.

It will cost around £415/US$599.