A bit of Hollywood and some commonsense
A little robot fusing here, there and then everywhere. Is that how the robot revolution will finally arrive? Bits of ?robotedness? creeping, yet creeping ever so quickly and near imperceptibly, into every consumer product, until that day in the not too distant future when the washing machine asks for a few days off.
Didn?t IT arrive similarly? It wasn?t poof! goodbye to elevator operations, but rather an attrition that quickly crept across the country and around the world. IT gutted hundreds of thousands of jobs (200,000 in Manhattan alone) without any marches on Washington from displaced elevator operators. With it came self-operating elevators that run 700 feet per minute (too fast for human operators), which makes high-rise buildings like the Sears Tower possible.
The reverberations of ?robotedness? were on the lips of four panelists at the recent TechCrunch in San Francisco. Moderated by TechCrunch?s Anthiony Ha, Rob Coneybeer (Shasta Ventures), Matt Rogers (Nest), Christian Sanz (Skycatch), and Boris Sofman (Anki), all high-tech product developers, nodded and chanted the same mantra about the growing influence of robotics on consumer products.
It all seemed to ring true, especially in view of how ?assistiveness? is creeping its way toward autonomy and self-driving vehicles.
Like smartphones birthing the app industry
Wasn?t the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, followed quickly by the Android OS, what caused the app industry to rise and thrive?
Michael Mandel of the Progressive Policy Institute puts it this way:
?The new generation of smartphones spawned an entire new industry of app developers?makers of lightweight software specifically designed to run on mobile devices. According to the Progressive Policy Institute?s latest calculations, the ?app economy? has generated more than 750,000 jobs in the United States, and many more in the rest of the world.”
They all met and made a video
TechCrunch & TechWire?Nest co-founder Matt Rogers told a crowd the TechCrunch that it hired a team of roboticists to build its smart thermostat. Like a classic robot, smart thermostats need to be aware of their surroundings, from temperature to tracking patterns of when humans are and are not home.
?It actually was a really easy sell,? Rogers said. ?Once you hear the idea to do a thermostat, first you think I?m nuts and then you realize how big the problem is.?
Rogers was joined on stage by Shasta Ventures co-founder Rob Coneybeer, Anki CEO Boris Sofman and Skycatch CEO Christian Sanz, all of whom are taking on the challenge of funding or commercializing robotics-related products despite the technology remaining expensive and limited.
?Robotics has been around for several decades. This is the first time people can expect it to come into their lives and have a big impact,? Sofman said.
Coneybeer said Shasta Ventures looks to fund companies that know their audience and understand most people are willing to pay $30 to $50 for a product. He also said they should look at customers as advocates and a long-term relationship instead of repeat buyers of a product. The other panelists agreed.
So while highly intelligent robots are a ways off for the average consumer, companies are getting smarter about working with what they have to deliver what consumers want.
?The way we think about things is the product should get better with time, you should love it more and more and you should tell your friends,? Rogers said. ?That?s the most valuable thing is word of mouth.?
?Christian Sanz of Skycatch designs drones including flying drones that can perform tasks for humans quickly. He works with large companies who want to deploy thousands of drones to extract information and send it around to various company locations,? reported TechWire?s Rachelle Chong.
?Skycatch,? she wrote, ?focuses on industrial uses like construction, mining, agriculture, logistics and energy (such as wind turbines and solar panels). Drones can help with management tasks, keeping resources fulfilled, and security functions.?
Boris Sofman of Anki uses artificial intelligence and robotics to bring products to consumers to delight and entertain them. Their first product is Anki Drive, coming out this fall. This product consists of robotic cars who know their locations precisely, their environment and have personalities. In the future Anki will make other consumer-oriented robotic products.
While together, TechCrunch shot video, calling the piece: How Robots Make Everything Better.
A very interesting and prescient discussion. Check it out: