Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Robotic arms can move fast enough to snatch thrown objects right out of the air… but should they? Not unless you want them to unnerve the humans they’re interacting with, according to work out of Disney Research. Roboticists there found that slowing a robot’s reaction time made it feel more normal to people.

Disney has of course been interested in robotics for decades, and the automatons in its theme parks are among the most famous robots in the world. But there are few opportunities for those robots to interact directly with people. Hence a series of research projects at its research division aimed at safe and non-weird robot-human coexistence.

In this case the question was how to make handing over an item to a robot feel natural and non-threatening. Obviously if, when you reached out with a ticket or empty cup, the robot moved like lightning and snapped it out of your hands, that could be seen as potentially dangerous, or at the very least make people nervous.

So the robot arm in this case (attached to an anthropomorphic cat torso) moves at a normal human speed. But there’s also the question of when it should reach out. After all, it takes us humans a second to realize that someone is handing something to us, then to reach out and grab it. A computer vision system might be able to track an object and send the hand after it more quickly, but it might feel strange.

The researchers set up an experiment where the robot hand reached out to take a ring from a person, under three conditions each of speed and delay.

When the hand itself moved quickly, people reported less “warmth” and more “discomfort.” The slow speed performed best on those scores. And hen the hand moved with no delay, it left people similarly uneasy. But interestingly, too long a delay had a similar effect.

Turns out there’s a happy medium that matches what people seem to expect from a hand reaching out to take something from them. Slower movement is better, to a certain point one imagines, and a reasonable but not sluggish delay makes it feel more human.

The handover system detailed in a paper published today (and video below) is robust against the usual circumstances: moving targets, unexpected forces, and so on. It’ll be a while before an Aristocats bot takes your mug from you at a Disney World cafe, but at least you can be sure it won’t snatch it faster than the eye can follow and scare everyone around you.


TechCrunch

Welcome to the robotic bedroom of the future, coming in 2020 to tiny apartments beginning in Hong Kong and Japan, but expanding around the world.

IKEA is now selling robotic furniture that can convert from a storage and seating unit into a bed and closet and back again.

The new line of furniture, based on the company’s PLATSA storage unit, is called ROGNAN and is designed to use space inside the home more efficiently, especially as housing units become smaller to accommodate the 1.5 million people who move to a city somewhere in the world every week, IKEA said in a statement.

“We have been working with developing small space living solutions for a long time, and we know that some of the biggest challenges in peoples’ homes are storage and finding the place to do all the activities that you’d want to do in your home,” said Seana Strawn, Product developer for new innovations at IKEA of Sweden, in a statement. “This is especially the case in big cities where people have to make compromises in the functions of their homes. We wanted to change that,”

Conversations between Ori Living and IKEA have been underway for the past two years and the launch of the collaboration in Hong Kong in 2020 is only the first step in their collaboration, according to Ori Living chief executive Hasier Larrea.

“People across the US have been living large in a small footprint with Ori’s robotic interiors since we introduced our first commercial product two years ago. At about the same time, we began working with IKEA to bring robotic furniture to the world,” Larrea said in a statement. “We share IKEA’s passion to enable people to make the most of their living spaces, and look forward to helping realize this as we continue to develop living spaces for the next generation.”

Born from research conducted by Larrea and MIT professor Kent Larson at the university’s famous Media Lab, Ori launched in 2015 as a way to reduce the footprint of living spaces in urban environments.

The two men were inspired by the Urban Land Institute’s blockbuster study, “The Macro View on Micro Units,” and collaborated with rockstar designer Yves Béhar, to create bed/storage/workspace units that were designed to meet the needs of folks who are trying to do more in increasingly cramped urban spaces.

The company’s first system consists of a retractable bed that can slide in or out at the push of a button from a wall mounted controller, an app on a smart phone, or by using a skill the company has programmed into Alexa.

With IKEA, Ori Systems has licensed the technology and will leave the manufacturing to IKEA and its incredibly sophisticated supply chain. “With this collaboration there is a license arrangement, which is one of the ways Ori can work with partners due to our technology’s modularity,” Larrea wrote in an email.

“With ROGNAN, small space living customers will no longer have to compromise their needs, dreams or comfort in order to achieve a multi-functional living environment. With ROGNAN the customer gets eight extra square meters of living space, using robotics to transform the solution from bedroom to walk-in closet, to work space, to living room. An all-in-one solution activated through a simple interface touchpad,” says Seana Strawn.


TechCrunch

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