Novelty is an easy subject to stray into in the world of technology, but with each passing tech trade show it’s clear robot companions aren’t going to fall into that category.
On the show floor at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the number of robots is truly astonishing, as is the range of forms they take.
In a manner that feels similar to drones two or three years ago, it seems robots are seen as the new best way to draw attention to your company.
As artificial intelligence software becomes more powerful but crucially also more accessible, the human-like interactions these devices are capable of improves too.
One argument that can be levelled at the robotics industry, however, is the current lack of imagination in some quarters.
A walk through the aisles of CES will leave you surprised at just how many robots there are, but also slightly bored by the number of bots that seem to do similar versions of the same thing – offer companionship or entertainment in the home.
Usually roughly humanoid in shape, they’ll have a happy, friendly face, and will normally sing and/or dance.
In the long term, the robotics industry needs to get past this idea of “cute is appealing” if it is to truly innovate in consumers’ lives, but given the relative infancy of the modern market, this approach can be forgiven for now.
Especially when there are green shoots such as those shown by the Industrial Technology Research Institute.
The Taiwanese firm has its Intelligent Vision System for Companion Robots on display, which used a combination of AI, 3D object recognition and hand-eye coordination to play Scrabble.
The level of intelligence demonstrated proves how capable robots can be.
This sort of focus, combined with LG’s current push for robots to be deployed as service units in public spaces, are enough for now to show the industry is moving forward, and will fill the show floor at CES for years to come.