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These aren’t the droids you’re looking for

I recently spoke at InnoRobo/RoboLift, a European robotics conference, held in the beautiful city of Lyon, France. Since my last trip to a European robotics conference was about 3 years ago, I was looking forward to catching up on how robotics was developing in this part of the world. One of the first things I noted was that the conference organizers had invited speakers from the design and user research community including Cynthia Breazeal, professor from MIT’s Media Lab. I particularly like to hear about Cynthia’s research because I share her philosophy that robot interaction needs to be designed as a social experience. Her work with Kismet, Leonardo, Nexi, and other robots really stand out as great examples of where the design of personal robots needs to go. This was refreshing, because many robotics conferences I have attended (except for the annual HRI conference) typically focus on optimistic market projections or demonstrations of…

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Sailing through a perfect storm

In my last entry, I described what motivated me to leave Microsoft and start a new venture to develop software and services for assistive care robots. After reading it, a friend quibbled with my calling the impending needs of the growing senior population a “Silver Tsunami,” noting that a dramatic drop in the sea level usually serves notice that a tsunami is on the way.  He rightly pointed out that in the case of the growing assistive care arena, we’ve been granted no warning ebb: The costs of and demands for resources are just increasing. Considering that the number of available caregivers is decreasing, a more apt analogy for the impending elder care scenario might be “A Perfect Storm.” Our best hope to weather this challenge is to empower seniors to continue to live as independently as possible. Doing so makes a lot of sense. First, studies show that this is…

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I think I’ll try defying gravity

Hello and welcome to my blog. In my first few entries, I will share with you some of what motivated me to start Hoaloha Robotics and my personal vision for how this technology could be an important tool for our future. On November 4, 2009, after a successful career of 28 years of contributions at Microsoft, I officially resigned. It had been an exciting ride where I had an opportunity to start and participate in a number of projects. When I started there, IBM had just entered the PC market, creating a catalyst that would accelerate the already building momentum of the emerging PC industry. Over the past 6 years I have watched what seems to be history repeating itself with the emergence of personal robots, evolving like PCs did from the large, expensive, and not very personal industrial-strength machines.  Like personal robots are today, many of the early PC…

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