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Developing Consumer Automation to Benefit Industry

Sensors and cameras are getting us to where researchers want to go with self-driving cars making their way through city streets. Closer to home, imagine dialing up images while out of town to see if a dog or cat is running low on food.

The widespread use of smart technology that takes in data and learns has many real-life applications including improved traffic control and alerting caretakers to an elderly person who has fallen on their property.

Sight is a powerful learning tool in the factory and at home. Take a close look at the impact of consumer demand on technology.

Niche Applications

Robots have helped Toyota manufacture cars and now the global corporation is putting its mark on wheelchairs that adjust to power up and down stairs. An article in PCmag.com, Toyota Revives Stair-Climbing iBOT Wheelchair, details how the carmaker is using technology to fulfill its mission of mobility for all people.

The industrial world uses six main types of robots while the consumer world is awash with a variety of niche products like vacuum cleaners, self-adjusting car seats, and self-cleaning kitty litter boxes.

Software, sensor technology, and the growing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has helped bust open the consumer market. Robots have been “smarter” by these enabling technologies as noted in the article The Consumerization of Robots – Implications for You, Me, and Industry.

The Role Gamers Play

The newest, biggest brands like Facebook and Google are serving the consumer market. A leader in automation research, Dr. Henrik Christensen, who is now working at the Contextual Robotics Institute, UC San Diego, expects the consumer market to lead the way in robotics.

He says the combination of games, and virtual and augmented reality is going to “allow us to build user interfaces that we’ve never seen before.”

Automated products made for this market will benefit industry by introducing robots for even more uses, improving worker safety, and creating more agile systems to meet customer demands.  

Following the R&D Path

Advances in machine vision are behind automated lawn mowing and floor cleaning. The widespread use of sensors and improved cameras can open the way for smarter appliances as noted in Image Sensors for a Smart Environment on sensorsmag.com.

A washing machine will adjust for color combinations while a dishwasher can sense fingerprints on wine glasses. These seem like little luxuries but there’s great potential in caring for the elderly and disabled plus using cameras and sensors to improve traffic flow on crowded streets.

Companies with the research and development power like Google will also do more than just create scalable products for consumers. The article Artificial Intelligence: Machine Vision’s Next Frontier describes how they will lead the way in refining how AI detects and responds to a user’s habits, likes and dislikes.

Deep machine-learning systems already exist and hold promise in areas like the food industry where a piece of fruit or food like a doughnut can vary from one piece to another. It will take another 3 to 5 years, though, for AI to begin realizing its full potential in industry.

Automation gives users a competitive edge. Training for staff and updates from experts are available through A3automate.org.