Robotics: The Future of the Internet of Things

Shelly Dutton

robot powered by the internet of thingsIn my last two blogs, we explored how the “Internet of Things” can be used to automate some mundane and annoying tasks of daily life in the office and home.

But let’s take it a step further. What if a robot can do the entire task a hand – freeing you to become more productive at work and enjoy more leisure time at home?

The connection between the Internet of Things and robots

It can be that surveillance camera at the mall. A short little quip on Facebook or Twitter. That embarrassing photo from last year’s office party during the holidays on Instagram. The GPS and smartphone you used during your summer vacation. No matter who we are, everything we do, say, eat, and drink is digitally traced.

Now that may be scary to think someone is always “watching.” But let’s look at it differently…how can society as a whole benefit from this gathered data? Sure, it’s a lot of information. But it can be used for the greater good.

As we continue to weave technology deeply into the fabric of daily life, it is possible to understand how people interact with each other, their possessions, and corporate entities. We can even break it down by personality type and accurately predict where they are most likely to live, shop, vacation, and work.

Even though roboticists are nowhere near achieving a true level of artificial intelligence, they are making progress in replicating some specific elements of intellectual ability by using the Internet of Things as the foundation of all “knowledge.”

Computers and robots can solve problems in limited realms

AI robots or computers can gather facts about a situation through sensors or human input. The computer compares this information to stored data and decides what the information signifies. Based on the collected information, the computer runs through various possible scenarios and predicts which action will be most successful. Of course, the computer can only solve problems it’s programmed to solve since they don’t have any generalized analytical ability. My favorite example of a machine that can do this are chess computers.

Robots can learn in a limited capacity

Learning robots recognize if a certain action (moving its legs in a certain way, for instance) achieves a desired result (such as navigating an obstacle). The robot stores this information and attempts the successful action the next time it encounters the same situation. Again, modern computers can only do this in very limited situations. However, institutions such as Cornell University are finding that robots learn the same way newborns learn – mimicking human actions and making connections based on trial and error, their programming, and the information they gather.

Robots can interact socially

Kismet, a robot at M.I.T’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, recognizes human body language and voice inflection and responds appropriately. Kismet’s creators are interested in how humans and babies interact, based only on tone of speech and visual cue. This low-level interaction could be the foundation of a human-like learning system.

Kismet and other humanoid robots at the M.I.T. AI Lab operate using an unconventional control structure. Instead of directing every action using a central computer, the robots control lower-level actions with lower-level computers. Which makes sense…we do most things automatically and don’t decide to do them at the highest level of consciousness.

Robots can exchange ideas

Using the philosophy that “experience is the best teacher,” RoboEarth has created World Wide Web for robots. This giant network and database repository enables robots to share knowledge, reuse information, and learn from each other about their behavior and the environment surrounding them. Bringing a new meaning to the phrase “experience is the best teacher”, the goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behavior, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction.

The Internet of Things is paving the way for a future with robots

Unlike developing an artificial heart, robotics scientists and engineers do not have a simple, concrete model of how the brain works. We do know that the brain is composed of complicated networks of countless neurons that facilitate learning and thinking. But they really aren’t sure how.

And that’s where the Internet of Things come in. Until the day someone fully understands the inner workings of the brain, we can understand human nature and social responses through all the information gathered in cyberspace. And by analyzing this vast amount of data, researchers are proving that robots can be developed to play a larger role in our daily home and work lives in the future.

If you had a robot at home or work, what would you program it to do? Knowing how technology works nowadays, no idea is too small, too big, or too crazy. Please share below!

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IoT , Awareness