Jenn, your first six slides were interesting, but did not seem somehow, well, practical. I was going to comment on the virtual woman, but that would just get me in trouble.
I did find interesting the automation robots and systems in the later slides. Industrial robotics just keeps getting more sophiscated. I work with some companies that make components for such devices and it is a very interesting field.
I agree, Rich. MD&M is the polar opposite of an auto show, where 25 big companies have mammoth "booths" that take up the entire show floor. MD&M has countless small booths. You could walk every aisle for a week and not to talk to everyone.
I agree, Chuck. This was my first time at MD&M West and I was amazed at the size of the show. It's true that there were several other shows co-located there, but even so, they filled all the halls of the entire convention center.
I think you did a fine job presenting some of the more eye-catching designs and inventions, Jenn. It's fascinating to see what is coming out of the minds of designers these days! I couldn't help be reminded of Star Wars when I saw the holographic woman and the Solid Concepts robot (the latter looking strangely like the Star Wars character Boba Fett--yes, I am a nerd!). Intersting how long it's taken for some of the scifi dreamed up in films to become a part of reality.
ElizabethM, I agree. The systems and gadgets shown in the slideshow were pretty impressive. Wondering if the Kawasaki High Performance Palletizing Robot was for entertainment or on display for customer inquiry. How big of a turn out was it at the show? Nice looking slides Jennifer!
It's worth mentioning that additive manufacturing was huge at the show. Seemed like it was everywhere. The futurist who spoke at one of the show's keynotes even predicted that it would eventually be bigger than the Internet.
I interviewed Rethink Robotics' Eric Foellmer about Baxter at the booth. This robot has some revolutionary technology for making itself safer to be around humans, especially the materials and the non-pinching design.
Baxter is pretty impressive...I remember when that news came out and wrote about it. It would have been super-cool to see up close. Was it (he?) cool or creepy? Can you imagine Baxter working alongside you in a factory? Just curious...
Yes, Liz, Baxter is another example of the "cool or creepy" question, also known as the "uncanny valley." To me, Baxter doesn't appear creepy, but I know many people who would feel uncomfortable working next to it (or him or her). Still, robots with human features aren't going away. We can expect more of them in the coming years. Here's a story that touches on the issue of the uncanny valley:
Interesting concept, Chuck, I did not know about the "uncanny valley." Makes perfect sense, but I suppose as you say we have to just get used to the idea. Humor seems a good way to bridge the gap, for sure. And if Baxter is as well designed as Ann says, perhaps "he," too, bridges the valley. I guess we will just have to see. But it still may be awhile before it's like C3PO or R2D2 in Star Wars and robots are seen as our friends and trusted companions! Just to get people in an industrial setting to work comfortably alongside Baxter and others like "him" would be a good start.
Ah, interesting...so perhaps "the eyes" have it? (Pun intended. ;)) But seriously, it is intresting to think what parts of the robot make it more human-like and therefore make people more comfortable interacting with it. I would imagine eyes, which already are important windows into a human being's character, would be an important feature on a robot to make it seem more human. We often judge a person by their eyes--ie, do they look trustworthy, does their smile reach their eyes. Perhaps it's the same with robots.
For whatever reason, Liz, I would have trouble taking any of these humanoid robots seriously in a business setting. I'd feel comfortable talking to a Telepresence system on a wall, but I can't imagine carrying on a discussion with humanoid robot that's following me down a hallway.
I know what you mean, Chuck. I haven't come into contact with any of them myself, personally, but it would seem sort of weird, even for someone like me who grew up in the Star Wars generation. ;) I'm sure we're not alone, but perhaps as robots become more advanced and are more prevalent in the human world, people will just get used to them. As with most things, the more you experience something, the more familiar it becomes.
That's funny, Ann, I was tempted to call Baxter a "he" straightaway! Good to know he lives up to his design promise. Is he as intuitive as he is suposed to be? I really would be so curious to meet him (yes, it is a bit weird to be thinking this about a robot) since he was so hyped!
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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