Thursday, December 21, 2006

One robot in every home

This is the name of the Jan'07 Scientific American's cover article by Bill Gates. Also it was a prediction made public by the South Korea's prime minister on April of 2006 that by 2015/2020 every home in South Korea would have one.
I was actually thinking about this in the past week or so, it definitely is an industry to watch and we'll just see it grow fast, more so in Asian markets probably than in the West.

My view on this subject:
1. Software: Microsoft is betting hard into this area and software wise it looks like we the path is being cleared to go.
2. Hardware: robotic parts (servos and sensors basically) are slowly getting cheaper but it's still expensive to get them. Not getting to the "kids in the garage" level yet, except for the LEGO Mindstorms which is actually great and is probably giving us the next robot developers generation.
3. Challenges: when we try to create machines that have glimpses of the intelligence we humans have, we need to emulate the massive parallelism of the brain and this is the challenge both in the hardware and software level. Bill Gate's article explains a bit of this and how their software solution has come up with couple solutions to this : concurrency and coordination run-time (CCR), taking advantage of multicore and multiprocessors systems and also a technology they call decentralized software services (DSS) that is supposed to simplify the writing of distributed robotic applications.

The article mentions possible uses including helper robots for the elder or people with disabilities. He didn't mention the "robot avatar", being like an alter ego for people with disabilities, that Dan was mentioning in his comment to one of my posts couple weeks ago, but we sure will get there ;)

The field is becoming amazing as it always was interesting but now it looks like all the pieces are coming together to really make it happen in the next couple decades. Seems likely that Microsoft is indeed paving the road to "One robot in every home".

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