background image

Hello? Is anyone there?

It has been awhile since we’ve posted an update here. We’ve just been very heads down on development of our companion robot. The age of “personal robotics” is only just beginning and creating one is more challenging than it might seem. Creating such a platform takes much more than PC, tablet, or mobile phone, in part because there are many more components, not only on the hardware side, but also for the software. This new “personal” generation requires more autonomy and more natural interaction, and natural interaction typically means supporting spoken input. While speech technology has seen improvement over the years, it still remains a most challenging form of input, much more prone to error than keyboards and mice. Even in human conversations, recognition isn’t always 100%. Advances in speech input have only set user expectations higher. We are pleased when speech oracles like Siri, Echo, or Cortana get it right, but typically very disappointed when…

Read more

Will You Welcome A Jibo Into Your Home?

In my last post, I mentioned Dr. Cynthia Breazeal’s founding of her new company as an example of the emergence of  robots designed to the social framework we apply as we interact in the world. This week, she unveiled Jibo, a personal robot for your home. It is no secret that we tend to respond to social stimuli even when generated from technology. While there has some debate in the robotics community about how far you can take this before you fall into the so-called “uncanny valley”, where too much anthropomorphic design may make a robot seem creepy, there is little doubt that it is almost unavoidable to create a some social context with robots. I’ve previously cited classic study by Drs. Heidel and Simmel in 1944. Subjects asked to describe animation of moving geometric shapes typically used social terms to described the interaction even though no such context was provided before….

Read more

The Rise of Emotional Robots

There seems to be an ever increasing number of new stories about emergence of robots, but I wanted to single out a number of recent announcements that I found quite interesting.  The first is the announcement of Google’s latest strategy with regards to self-driving cars. It’s certainly not new that Google has been investing in self-driving cars. They have been traveling the streets of San Francisco and the freeways of the Bay Area for some time now. However, the latest information reveals that Google is applying what they have learned from retrofitting conventional cars with sensors and computers to these own custom vehicles. Unlike their predecessors, the new Google cars are smaller and designed to only travel about 25 miles per hour. Also, unlike their more conventional cousins, they have no explicit controls (i.e. no steering wheel), other than an emergency stop button. They have also been designed to have soft exteriors, likely not so much…

Read more