Robotic devices have been a part of the home for a long time now. Cleaning aids like vacuum cleaners and related items have become as familiar as the standard vacuum.
In fact, we are likely to colloquially refer to a robot cleaner as a Roomba – regardless of brand – same as every vacuum cleaner is a Hoover. These simple devices are a part of many homes, and the technology has almost become outdated.
A clever system that can map a floor and avoid obstacles is child’s play. The 2015 BB8 droid is proof of that. There is, therefore, a desire but the bigger, better and smarter models. Recent advancements show how basic the Roomba is when looking for the best robotic servants.
Robotic devices have developed with great intelligence and understanding of human needs.
One of the important ways that these new artificial intelligence devices have developed is that they are now able to communicate with us. They can learn from all, determine mood and adjust preferences. They get to know us in a way that only AI can.
There are some brilliant assistants around that can help us with tasks. They can play music, look things up on the internet, connect to devices, offer travel and weather tips and much more.
A lot of this comes down to developments in voice recognition software. This is where devices like the Amazon Echo and even the more animated Xperia Agent are so appealing. They seem to understand their “master” in a way tech couldn’t before. The Xperia Agent can’t do a whole lot more functionally that the increasingly-popular Echo, but the appeal lies in that motion and interaction.
The blue eyes of the LG Hub Robot are enough to bring out some form of personality that doesn’t exist, and this is important. There is the sense that there is sentient life there that wants’ to help. These leads to an interesting dilemma for consumers with these devices.
A bland, emotionless one-dimensional device isn’t enough anymore for many homes.
The problem is that these devices are simply that. They are great assistants with some impressive software. They are still a simple, inanimate object on a shelf or a soulless cleaner.
What consumers want is a robot that walks and talks and helps. This is how developer takes those appealing desktop robots with the flashing eyes and moving arms and make them more functional. There are developers in different countries working on that.
In some cases, these robots are becoming more and more humanoid. The appeal of this depends on the actual human interacting with it. Some long for robots that pass as human. Others find it all a little creepy. Humanoid receptionists can be comforting.
A humanoid cleaner verges a little too close to companion bots for comfort. Naturally, companies are falling over themselves to create the best machines. Amazon, Xperia, LG and Sony are only the start.
These robots, humanoid or otherwise, can also help in a variety of ways thanks to the internet of things.
It is important to remember here that this just focuses in on that one device/robot/helper. Many robotic and artificial intelligence devices are no longer going it alone.
The internet of things provides a wide system of devices connected wirelessly for seamless communication. The Amazon Echo hub, the robot maid and even some of the more primitive cleaners can take advantage of this.
A range of devices can link up to the system, such as the ever-popular smart thermostat and other security systems. Users can set the heating, lock the doors and much more with the touch of a screen or that helpful voice activation.
Then leads to wider concerns about where this information is going, who has it and what could is then done with it. The aim is that the devices talk to each other to learn more about creating the ideal smart home.
Integration and collaboration mean a smooth process for a good morning routine. This especially true if the lights, blinds, toaster, fridge and house help are all on the same wavelength. Still, there are stories about the level of access that the government has to information.
What are they learning about our habits, the food in the fridge and the energy used? Worst of all, what are they then doing with that information? With ongoing issues of data protection and freedom on the internet, this is the last thing that homeowners need.
So how far should we go when trying to create the perfect robotic servant for the home?
This is where the paranoia begins to seep in about the robotic maids and assistants we bring into our lives. How far is too far? How clever is too clever? There has to be a stopping point with different aspects of these robot helpers and their AI capabilities. The looks can only become so humanoid before it gets disturbing.
The communication of the internet of things can only go so far until we lose privacy. The functions and intelligence of the bots can only go so far until we start to feel like we are no longer in control.
One interesting product to mention here is Bosch’s Kuri robot, a maid that act more like a parole officer. He/she can recognise family members, sense when they enter the home and alert users and even display moods. It sounds like a new member of the household that becomes kids’ favourite.
Finally, there is the question of how much homeowners are willing to pay for this tech. It seems this all depends on where in the world you are and how special that robot is.
There are always people looking for the next big thing and ready to pay out for the best robot possible. The problem is that something better with always come along and the second-gen models have fewer kinks to iron out.
It all comes back to that question of what people want from a robot maid and how much control they want to relinquish.