Kim: When today’s consumers think about robots, the movie iRobot or use of robots for industrial processes such as in the automotive industry come to mind. Based on your long experience in the robotics field Sylvia, can you tell us more about how Robots will shape our future?
Sylvia: It’s important to say that first, the robot industry is growing exponentially and second, robots are no longer just industrial robots. There is a very interesting new category of robots called service robots. These are robots like social robot Pepper, care robots or logistic robots, to name a few. Service robots bring a service to us humans and work closely with us, hence they change our professional and our personal life! The healthcare, retail and hospitality sectors in particular are the first ones to benefit from service robots. In addition to process optimization and automation, service robots bring a service and an experience to people. A very important aspect when thinking about the future and robots.
Kim: Do you have any recent example of a project where human & robots interacted together which worked particularly well?
Sylvia: When we think of the combination of elderly people and technology, we are not convinced this works out well. In fact, the opposite is true! Elderly people and children are very open to robots and new technologies. The last successful deployment of our social robot Pepper is an elderly home in Switzerland. Just imagine how 80 to 90 year old residents from this elderly home were activated by a robot to do brain training, elderly fitness, listen to fairy tales and much more. With this project, we were able to break down the walls in people’s minds – elderly people love to interact with robots. It got to the point where residents were on the lookout for the robot when they couldn’t see it straight away. “Where’s my robot?” was a common question. This speaks for emotional bonding with the robot, hugging the robot was a daily task for many.
Kim: AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the buzzwords that every CMO talks about today and Meta is doing a lot of research in the field of AI. How can technologies such as AI and robots be used in a positive way to shape the future?
Sylvia: AI and Robots are a very interesting combination. Especially if we combine the AI software doing analyses, statistics and optimizations with physical robots that move around in space and interact with us humans. All together we have additional opportunities for digital experiences. Personally I think the combination of both, AI and Robots, will grow and it’s super interesting investing in. By designing the interaction between human and machine we can make sure to shape the future in a positive way.
Kim: Last question. We have recently announced our name change to META to reflect our focus on building the metaverse a success for the mobile internet. What is your view on leveraging AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) to demonstrate the benefit that robots might have?
Sylvia: While Arabesque is mainly working in the field of service robots we aren’t using so much VR in our field – yet. The VR technology is currently mainly used in the industrial robot area but it will surely pick up soon. Currently, when we start a project, we demonstrate the robot physically. The VR way is a new perspective, it gives us a new digital tool to make our lives easier. Clients will no longer have to come to our offices to look at the robot and get the full demonstration.
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