We have all seen robots in movies and read about them in books. Robots have fascinated humans from the time of the first automata of 19th century France to R2D2 and C3PO in Star Wars, and Chitti in the Rajnikanth starrer, Robot. Perhaps it’s because we see a robot as the ultimate expression of human intelligence — an entity that mimics life. Or maybe its because we see robots as aides who can help us with the several small tasks of our lives while we occupy ourselves with more important things. That’s why the Roomba is so popular. Whatever the reason, robots have been part of the public consciousness for centuries.
What is a social robot?
While automata and Roombas can perform tasks for which they have been programmed, R2D2, C3PO, and Chitti, could interact with human beings. In some cases, they were even capable of feeling emotions. These are social robots. It’s no coincidence that these examples are fictional. For long, we have struggled to get robots and humans to interact seamlessly, and social robotics has been the domain of science fiction, not reality. That has begun to change.
Why companion robots?
Who among us didn’t want a little robot buddy as a child? We all wanted our own little R2D2 who would guide us and help us. Companion robots are fascinating little creatures who are not only artificially intelligent, but also emotionally intelligent, giving life to dull, lifeless task-doing robots. They can talk, they can respond, they can learn from us, and ultimately improve our everyday lives.
Companion robots and children
Kids today interface with technology from a young age, so much so that a large portion of their time is spent in front of screens. 82% of Indian children in middle class urban homes are well-versed with smartphone use. 92% of parents polled were concerned about smartphone addiction among their kids, but 80% refrained from snatching phones away from their children. Parents need a positive and trusted gateway of technology, because they realize children have to learn to coexist with technology in today’s world. The solution to the significant challenges technology poses will come not from purging technology from our lives, but from newer, better technology. Companion robots are this technology.
Miko is India’s first companion robot. Miko is an emotionally intelligent robot who is capable of engaging, educating, and entertaining a child. Miko is a gizmo, buddy, and developmental aid all rolled into a puppy-sized package. Find out more about Miko at www.emotix.in. Register for a demo of Miko at http://emotix.in/demo.