In previous generations, robots have fallen over while being unveiled, failed to do the simplest of tasks or been great for one use only. However, the latest models, both automatons and software robots, are flexible and here to serve businesses today.
The concept of the robot has changed greatly in recent years. Accepted for decades in factories and production lines, robots already roam the streets delivering takeaway food, flying drones deliver parcels and a modern robot is a flexible and smart multi-purpose friend to many.
Robots aren’t just hunks of metal and servos either. Software robots act as influencers on social media, chatbots engage millions of customers every day and will soon take over a lot of municipal, medical or similar interactions to help better manage growing populations.
Drones on the March
Starship robots are becoming a common sight on the streets of major cities, helping deliver food quickly and efficiently. Using smart mapping tools, obstacle avoidance sensors, they deliver hot food and cold drinks. Domino’s has their own version, DRU or Domino’s Robotic Unit, being tested in Australia.
As people become more used to home delivery of groceries, drug prescriptions and other items, expect flying drones to deliver them locally faster to replace people slogging around in a van or on a bike.
These drones won’t replace delivery staff, as the initial cost will limit them to marketing efforts or high-intensity areas where they can help out during busy periods. Emergency deliveries can beat the commuter traffic, and luxury goods or presents can arrive with that extra flourish. Over time, any business that delivers might have a fleet of robots to speed up their service and to attract new customers for whom robots are just a common part of life.
More flexible robots are appearing in hospitals and care homes to help assist people in getting around, to act as virtual companions and provide entertainment. One firm plans drones that will deliver drugs or blood. These necessary use cases will spill out over time into general home robots and support droids that can improve quality of life. For any home, you don’t even need a full robot, Elli Q is a smart home solution for seniors using AI and social media to keep people active, engaged and in touch.
The Ageless Marketing Model
The success of The Simpsons is cemented around the fact that an animated character never ages. The same can said of the growing number of digital models, who can never be accused of being Photoshopped or airbrushed, as that’s how they were created. Hand-crafted to meet a brands’ perfect image, with a few imperfections thrown in to make them look human, they are a big part of the future of marketing. Also, they won’t end up splashed across the tabloids damaging brands along the way.
Take Lil’ Miquela who has over a million online followers, and has worked with the likes of Prada and other brands as a virtual clothes horse. Among the first in a new breed of computer-generated influencer (another term that will be hogging the overused acronym CGI), Miquela and her type allow brands to control the whole “influencer experience” and will play a massive part in brand culture.
A virtual model on a 4K or 8K screen will look just as realistic as an actual model, and virtual fashion shows or make-up demonstrations will cost a fraction of setting up a real one. Also, smaller brands can build or acquire their own influencers at minimal cost over traditional methods.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants Grow Up
The first two elements of this piece are something that businesses and brands will own and control. They are hardware, a product, tangible. But virtual assistants are almost all code and software. They are also something that individuals can take control of. We can choose the voice, the types of interaction, setting boundaries and family-friendly controls.
Add them into a robot and you have a true companion, with the software always updating to add new features and options. Chatbots currently mostly appear on social media, built on platforms like SnatchBot that add artificial intelligence and natural language processing to all the bot to understand what we ask.
As chatbots and virtual assistants merge, they can follow people around in their day to day lives to help perform digital tasks, making appointments, reminding us of things to do and smartly providing news of interest and social updates of relevance.
Throw these three elements together and we could soon see walking, talking supermodels like AMC/Channel 4’s Humans who are designed to fit in around real life. Consider that as your business adopts AI technology and robots, and be prepared to take advantage of that future. With plenty of robotic development and market activity taking place, this is an exciting industry to watch.
I’ve been writing about technology. PCs and mobile for over 10 years, covering news, tutorials, reviews, comparisons and other pieces across magazines and websites.