TechKNOW Tomorrow – The Future is Here: Robots that Help You Around the House

Image by Andy Kelly via Unsplash.

Back in the ’80s, there was an abundance of movies that attempted to capture what the future might look like. In 1984, the classic film, The Terminator, told the story of an advanced AI (artificial intelligence) system created in the near future called SkyNet. SkyNet was initially developed to help people with mundane tasks in their everyday lives, but as soon as it became self-aware, it sought to destroy its only perceivable threat – humanity.

Released the same year, Electric Dreams predicted a future in which home computers have become so deeply integrated into our lives, that they can even control our appliances such as blenders or coffee makers. In the film, the home computer becomes sentient over time and lashes out against its controller, sort of like SkyNet on a much smaller scale.

That was almost forty years ago. When you think about it, the fictional future these films created in telling their stories isn’t that far from the truth. Most of us do have AI assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google that can communicate with us and help with spoken requests. Smart appliances such as fridges, coffee makers, and dishwashers have existed for several years now and are frequently being improved upon annually.

While the idea of a self-aware AI that turns against its creators is a far-fetched idea (it’s highly unlikely that a machine could ever become more intelligent than the person who programmed it), the fact of the matter is that we now have machines enhanced with AI that can automate many of the mundane, time-consuming tasks we perform on a daily basis.

By 2024, we will likely start to see robots in our homes performing tasks like cleaning out the dishwasher, vacuuming without any supervision, and even performing prep work for cooking.

In other words, the future is here.

AI and Life at Home

Image by Samsung via YouTube.

At the annual CES trade show, numerous companies illustrated CGI prototypes of possible tech in upcoming years. A couple of companies, however, actually featured physical prototypes to demonstrate how close we are to having these items in our homes.

One of these excellent innovations comes from a company called Nobi with their unique smart lamp. Taking the place of your current light fixture or as a separate one, the Nobi Smart Lamp uses motion sensors to detect the slightest movement. Unlike outdoor sensors, however, the light adjusts to the situation.

The light shines upwards or downwards depending on where you are and the time of day. At night, if you sit up in bed, it’ll shine towards the ceiling so as to not disorient you from bright light. Getting out of bed, it’ll then shine downwards to prevent falls or injuries.

The smart lamp can detect a fall and will even ask you if you’re okay. If the answer is anything but yes, it will automatically call your trusted contact or even emergency services. The device also includes an air quality sensor and a built-in smoke detector. All of these features combined can aid with independent living no matter what age you are.

Some other interesting inventions come from Samsung with their new lineup of robots for your household. For instance, if you struggle to micromanage all of the little details in your life (appointments, time management, getting enough exercise, taking breaks, etc.), Samsung Bot Care can help with that. This little robot can recognize and understand your behaviours and follow you around like a little companion, reminding you of everything you want/need to do in the run of a day to remain healthy and keep your sanity. A little bit creepy, but also very cool!

As if that wasn’t enough, Samsung also previewed two other nifty little robot assistants. JetBot 90 AI+, equipped with both an optical sensor and laser navigation system, is essentially an incredibly “smart” vacuum cleaner that requires practically no maintenance. While not exactly a new invention, it’s far better than models of previous years.

It can detect different types of objects and determine whether or not they are fragile while it’s cleaning. For example, it’ll be careful around an object like glass, but not so much around a metal chair. It can even avoid loose cables or articles of clothing that would require you to reset its position. Finally, with a built-in camera, this robot can even give you updates at home on your animals whenever you’re away.

Perhaps the coolest robot Samsung presented at CES 2021, however, was Bot Handy. The robot uses AI to detect and understand objects made of different weights and types of materials (a plastic bottle or a glass plate, for example). Bot Handy can apparently move around, set the table, load/unload the dishwasher, put groceries away, or even pour you a glass of wine after a hard day’s work.

The most interesting thing about these robots? They’re almost ready for sale and distribution to households worldwide. While we shouldn’t worry about the unlikely scenario of SkyNet trying to wipe out all of humanity, you may want to consider sleeping with one eye open if you plan on purchasing one of these robots.

. . .

At techKNOWtutors, we realize that adapting to technology isn’t easy. Although most services have closed, we remain open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with improving your digital literacy, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message.

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

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