It has taken me time to warm to the notion of robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Slightly sceptical, and not at all happy about the concept of robots taking human roles. But this year I have been working on a project which has created a need for me to hang out with IBM’s NAO Robots, and immerse myself in the world of Artificial Intelligence, on a regular basis.
And in doing so, I have collected my favourite use cases for organisations today.
Dangerous and Dull
Today in industries ranging from manufacturing, to mining, to the the aeronautics industry , there are tasks which, on one extreme are so dull and boring it is almost impossible to recruit resource to support, and on the other extreme, so dangerous that lives are regularly lost. Step in robots . Robots, infused with Artificial Intelligence (AI) are an awesome alternative to dull and dangerous . If we take the example of Robonaut2 , NASA are partnering with IBM to use robots to fulfil roles way to dangerous for humans. It was, in fact Robonaut which really got my attention. This is not about replacing humans. This is about supporting our lives in meaningful ways. If you watch the following video, you can see how a demonstration of how RobotNaut2 is being used on the Space Station. RobotNaut2 on the Space Station
Imagine the utilisation of robotics and AI in industries like mining, manufacturing and construction – all of which are happening now. Saving lives!
My mother-in-law speaks Spanish, and rarely speaks English . From going to the doctor, to updating her passport, to shopping , she frequently needs someone with her to translate . Imagine a doctors surgery where a robot could sit along side a doctor and translate into the patients preferred language . Or in a passport office, or even a hotel where there are frequently many language demands on the staff. It is not possible to be inclusive of all languages when staffing your organisation however now, with the aid of robotics and AI, you can communicate across languages whilst still delivering quality customer service. Nao Translation is a fun video showcasing how Nao can leverage speech recognition and translation APIs today.
Applying this in industries has so many possibilities. If you are customer facing and delivering services in multicultural communities , robotics provides you an opportunity to wow the experience by providing customer service to customers regardless of language spoken. I think of all the times my mother-in-law needs to call family to help her translate. I also think fondly of my father-in-law, who, in his final weeks in hospital, was not able to easily communicate with the nurses who were there to make his time comfortable. How Artificial Intelligence could have taken just a little strain off the medical team and also helped provide comfort to family when they needed to step outside the room for a break.
In the hospitality industry, managing requests at the moment of need is critical as clients are becoming more demanding. In March this year, Hilton Hotels and IBM welcomed Connie to the world. Connie, the world’s first Watson-enabled robot conscierge draws on knowledge from both Watson and Wayblazer to help guide guests on local attractions, dining recommendations and hotel features and amenities. Connie currently works at the reception desk at Hilton McLean in Virginia. Using natural language, Connie will answer questions and learn and adapt her responses, using cognitive technology. And each interaction helps her become more useful and engaging with Hilton’s guests.
In Japan, Pepper the Robot is joining the MasterCard (in partnership with Softbank) and Pizza Hut campaign and customer service teams. Employed to greet restaurant patrons, and take their order on Mastercard “MasterPass” mobile payment app, Pepper’s job is to both boost the number of people using MasterPass as a choice of payment and encourage more people to come into the Pizza Hut Stores.
Just launched to the market, Coolidge and Benini have launched the Cognitoy, a toy dinosaur, which, using cognitive technology, will learn and adapt in the way it interacts and teaches a child . It uses speech recognition to converse with children of different ages, and develops its personality based on the individual likes and dislikes of the child. Certainly a creative way to get children excited about learning.
But now step this up. Imagine a child with autism, who may be uncomfortable with social interactions and expression. AI delivered via robotics can take away this anxiety, providing a non threatening face to teaching, and engaging them on a sensory and intellectual level which will stimulate their responses in a gentle way. This also applies in the area of patients with alzheimer’s, or mental disorders. A list of amazing possibilities that deliver teaching in a therapeutic manner.
I have a number of friends with autistic children, and I cannot wait to introduce them to the Cognitoy and witness their engagement for myself.
My children have the luxury of an awesome education system in Australia and it is something I have to admit I take advantage of . What if my children had learning difficulties or required therapy not available to them at schools. The idea that AI and robotics could assist in the classroom and provide the benefits and beauty of learning to every child is something we should all aspire too. For my kids, I would love to see them constantly consider how else could we enhance the customer experience, safety or equality for all, by augmenting what they are already doing with AI and robotics. To be curious to understand the possibilities and then push that even more.
And of course there is always just the fun element . Rock Paper Scissors vs Nao anyone? Rock Paper Scissors
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Michelle Zamora is a Marketing Leader with a passion for business strategy, data, content, customer insights and engagement, and developing awesome talent.