San Jose, CA. The future of robotics is…beer pong? Maybe not, but Empire Robotics’ Versaball Beer Pong Robot was an example cited by Francis Rabuck, a technology research analyst at RoboUniverse, in a presentation at Sensors Expo & Conference.
Beer pong is a relatively frivolous application, but Rabuck cited many more serious ones made possible through sensor technology—such as using drone thermal imaging to help measure the crop water stress index (CWSI).
As for the human interface, he said voice will become ultimate interface for the IoT world, where devices will have no keyboards. Speech recognition has advanced well beyond moving through a menu by reciting numbers in what he called the Lawrence Welk approach—“ah one and ah two….”
Nevertheless, he said, challenges remain. For example, consider the question, “Do you want to buy stocks or bonds?” A robot would need to determine whether this is a yes-no question or an either-or question. Viv, he said, is an approach toward intelligent speech interfaces and the understanding of complex queries.
He also discussed touch and soft robotics, citing work of the Wyss Institute. Work is also proceeding on the sense of smell, he said, adding that the ability of machines to create smell could help with the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. He also commented on emotional robots, like Jibo and ones from Hanson Robotics.
The future, he said, will be made possible in part by devices that are smaller, faster, and cheaper, but data science and analytics will also play a key role.
Challenges, he concluded, will also relate to social policy. It’s well noted that robots can take jobs. And with voice becoming the dominant interface, Rabuck said, privacy becomes an issue—after all, a talking Barbie doll is also a listening Barbie doll.