Guest post by Dan Greene. What developments are on your business’s radar this year? With uncertainty a common theme across the globe, it can distract you from the latest advances in technology. But there’s one trend that looks set to stay, changing the way businesses operate and attracting a lot of attention. And that’s the development of robotic technology. We’ve gathered five of the most interesting products we think could revolutionise your business:
- Robotic arms
Although relatively new, robotic arms are without a doubt becoming a more familiar sight in production. They allow businesses to automate monotonous and repetitive tasks, freeing up staffing resource for more productive roles.
Robotic arms are perfect for operations such as light production, easy handling, pick and place, machine loading and laboratory automation. Benefits of using them include reduced costs by decreasing lead times and increasing productivity. The payback period is said to be as short as six months.
Most are lightweight and compact and use off-the-shelf standard connectors and cabling, making it easy for you to adapt the robotic arms to many different applications. Interested? Check out some of the options from RS Online.
- In-house assistant
Do you wish you had more time to focus on business-critical operations? Get yourself some help around the home with a robot and free up yourself to focus on other things. Asus’s Zenbo costs $599 (£410) – which is about the same as a smartphone.
The Guardian explain it’s “designed to be a do-it-all smarthome assistant,” able to drive itself around your place, using various cameras to avoid bumping into walls and anything else in the way. This clever robot can also respond to voice commands and have a chat with you.
It also talks to all the other gadgets in your house, allowing you to control everything from a hub. Oh, and it will entertain the kids with a song and dance. We’re not promising the novelty won’t wear off, but it will definitely give you some all-important free time.
- Your new cleaner
Cleaning the office is one of the annoying, but essential things. If you’ve had one too many cleaners let you down, we suggest turning to robotic technology. Here, robots have dominated for some time.
Robot vacuum cleaners, for example, can be set up and left to hoover up your mess so its spotless when clients come in. Dyson’s 150,000-yen 360 Eye was launched in 2016 and is probably the best of the bunch (check out a review Engadget).
It can scan and map out your offices using cameras and lasers, enabling it to plot the best route for optimum cleanliness. However, it won’t tackle the stairs, so watch out for new developments in 2017 that will make other surfaces the robot’s domain.
- Virtual meetings
Do you have offices and employees set up in different places? When you need to come together to communicate and collaborate, businesses tend to use video-conferencing facilities. Fortunately, they keep delivering higher quality pictures and sound all the time. And it’s something people will pay thousands for.
For example, global recruitment company Rethink recently invested £80,000 on video conferencing facilities. It meant the UK team can host meetings with their Singapore counterparts, reducing travel in a way that saves thousands of pounds and frees up time for employees.
Rethink COO Andy Lord told the Telegraph: “Crucially, the visual sophistication of the facility means we don’t lose the human interaction achieved in face-to-face scenarios.”
- Meet and greet
Meet Pepper – the humanoid robot who’s set to change the face of customer service. Capable of holding conversations, reading emotions and entertaining you, Pepper operates on wheels with a camera- and sensor-filled head, a touchscreen on its chest and working arms.
At the moment, you can only get your hands on this robot in Japan for 198,000 yen (£1,220). But it’s proving popular, already in some stores of Japanese telecoms giant SoftBank acting as robot shopping assistant. Watch it at work in this video.
Are you interested in any of the latest technology developments? Share your experience of robots in the workplace with us.