Meet Aibo and Zenbo – no, they aren’t twin brothers, they’re robots. Aibo is the name of Sony’s entertaining robot dog, while Zenbo is a potential lifesaver that can “live” with an elderly person and call emergency services if help is needed. It can also provide entertainment and operate as a communication tool. As well as being used in everyday situations, robots are a fundamental part of industry, business, and marketing. Robotics supported by deep learning, AI, and emotion AI is a key technology for the future.
What makes robotics such an interesting field is that it brings together several different branches of industry and science. Although its technical foundation incorporates
- electrical engineering,
- mechanical engineering,
- IT, and
- artificial intelligence (AI),
robots are more than simply machines that are programmed to execute commands. The aim is also to teach them to learn independently and to simulate emotions. If self-learning robots can recognize algorithms to identify patterns, they can then develop their own approaches to resolving problems. The key to this is successful interaction between humans and machines that is based not only on technology but also on
- sociology, and
The goal of the innovative achievements in AI and the development of smart machines is to support people in their working environment, in everyday life, and during interaction and communication. And this is now happening in a variety of ways.
Robotics: More efficiency thanks to smart machines
The automotive and packaging industries are prime examples of industries that have been using industrial robots for decades now. These robots greatly accelerate manufacturing processes, boost health and safety at work, and help protect the environment by increasing energy efficiency.
In contrast to industrial robots, social robots are now part of everyday life in many different ways, such as the smartwatch on your wrist, the security system that protects your home, and the robots that provide services and information in stores and at airports. Social robots operate as smart assistants in a range of areas, including
- as household help,
- in monitoring and surveillance,
- in the catering and hospitality industry,
- in agriculture,
- in therapeutic settings,
- and in surgery.
From intelligent lawnmowers to medical health systems that measure your blood pressure and remind you to take your tablets, and even the smart lock on your front door, we already rely on a range of helpful devices in our daily lives. Many branches of Starbucks let you order your coffee on your smartphone, intelligent exoskeletons help deliver rehabilitation therapies, and surgeons control their instruments via a joystick when they operate.
But where else might we use robots? Could people possibly learn something from them as well? Would we be prepared to accept robots as teachers?
Smart robots as teachers and harvest workers
People use smart devices in business, when they play sports or exercise, for customer service, at home, and even at school. It has been shown that using robots in lessons increases students’ attention spans and makes them more interested in learning. Even “smart schools” have now become a reality.
Agriculture is also starting to rely on Farming 4.0, with GPS-controlled agricultural machinery and intelligent feeding systems now an everyday sight. This also improves the environmental footprint and simplifies many working practices on farms.
Chatbots: AI in business
Customer experience and loyalty are no longer the exclusive province of those friendly service staff who answer the telephone hotline. Many companies now use AI-based chatbot programs to answer frequently-asked questions, making the job much easier for the customer service team. Natural language processing has come on board in leaps and bounds, and intelligent chatbots are so skilled at utilizing their extensive knowledge of natural language that many customers never actually realize that they are communicating with a machine.
AI in marketing
AI programs use the countless different ways that users behave during their customer journey to collect data. This allows AI to support marketing teams in identifying target groups and “advise” them on campaign focal points and KPIs – and the algorithm adds to its knowledge base with each new click made by the user.
AI programs can collect, process, and analyze large data volumes. This helps marketers identify customer needs and desires more quickly, and better utilize this information to align campaigns and offers to them. Some companies are even debating whether they would be better spending the budget on simply implementing AI instead of on a marketing agency.
Emotion AI: Robots with feelings?
Research into emotion AI isn’t simply focused on arousing feelings in robots. Although robots are capable of simulating emotions, being able to recognize them in humans is much more important. Developments in emotion AI are focused on improving and utilizing the interaction between humans and machines by recognizing gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. The following areas are examples of how the ability of robots to recognize feelings can be put to practical use:
# Service robots
Service robots in airports and friendly robot teachers in schools use sensors and facial recognition to identify whether customers and students are upset, stressed, or happy. They then use this information to select an appropriate response. Robots that are used in public places tend to be humanoid; they look like people and behave like them as much as possible, so that they are accepted as equals – at least when it comes to communication.
Advertising research uses AI to evaluate online ads. Cameras and sensors are used to analyze facial expressions to assess user responses to advertising formats displayed on screen. Real-time operation makes this tech-based AI solution significantly more efficient than evaluating large quantities of questionnaires.
The ability of robots to recognize feelings is also important when it comes to people who have no programming knowledge but want or need to be able to use smart devices. Robots are used in assisted living settings to help the elderly and people with impairments in an emergency. If these robots can use specific movements, tones of voice, or facial expressions in people to distinguish between everyday situations and dangerous ones, this could potentially save lives in critical cases.