Four distinct products; three different companies; two distant continents - connecting one planet's future.
The Force: It is not an everyday occurrence that one can walk around feeling like a Jedi. Well one US-based robotics company called Sphero on the contrary, is bringing that feeling a little closer to homes with their BB-8 and Force Band offering. As BB-8 is now fast becoming a household or office robotic pet. Sphero’s Force Band addition (which helps to control the BB-8 robot), has certainly brought out what was once a dream-like concept of George Lucas’ Star War saga to real life and modern living. Find out more on Sphero.com.
Bringing home the ‘NOW’ generation of Robotics - Sphero's BB-8 and Force Band - image courtesy Sphero © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd.
The Cognitive: However it is the educational contribution that Sphero is intelligently pushing forward. So while they have branded their connected toy robots with the Star Wars concept, once you engage with and use their SPRK+ robot you will clearly make the observation that the world of robotics is not something for engineers let alone a concept of the future - but rather of the present.
Bringing home the ‘NOW’ generation of Robotics - Sphero's SPRK+ - image courtesy Sphero
SPRK+ is the cognitive concept that is bridging the gap between thinking, programing and enabling or to explain it from a child’s perspective: imagining, building and playing. It takes the idea of using educational toys and incorporates the opportunity to create a smart playing tool that uses computer programming, physics and mathematics with a simple robotic ball that is controlled by fun to use apps.
The robotic sphere can be combined with other toys such as LEGO Technic to provide movement (like an engine core) or be used to write basic code and algorithms for maze-solving and shape-forming puzzles. The added benefit for kids of today – who spend most of their time using apps on phones and tablets, is that they get to learn whilst having a blast at the same time.
The companion: On the other side of the planet, a motor car giant from Japan has given thought and produced the Kirobo Mini. The baby brother to the initial astronaut robot called Kirobo, Toyota have created a personal companion that skillfully during the times of being alone, keeps you entertained and thus earns the title of ‘buddy’. This type of Robotic companionship represents the next form of AI that is also upon us now rather than in the distant future.
Bringing home the ‘NOW’ generation of Robotics - Toyota's Kirobo Mini - © 1995-2016 TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION. All Rights Reserved.
Catching a lift home from the office: In another part of the world, China's EHANG 184 is pushing the envelope on a new flight option for individuals needing a quick commute within larger cities to beat traffic and congestion.
Bringing home the ‘NOW’ generation of Robotics - EHANG 184 - image courtesy © 2014-2016 EHANG, Inc.
Driven by the mission statement: “Let humankind fly freely like a bird”, this firm aims to enable catching a lift home with the help of robotics to become a pleasant, eco-friendly, safe and quick experience. If flying cars are not something we are experiencing now due to the bottlenecks (mostly caused by the dependence on fossil-fuels) and expense, then flying (giant drone-like) devices have more so become a reality than a future existence.
So as you can see it seems that no matter how different, distinct or distant the world seems within itself, it is evident - thanks to the industry of robotics - connecting to the future has become well and truly part of the present.