When you consider that the Internet Of Things has only been around for half a decade in any meaningful way, it is pretty impressive that we have reached the current level of automation in such a short space of time. Of course, Moore’s Law has provided us with an expectation that by the end of the decade we will be flying around with jet packs strapped to our backs while walking our pet Pokemon in virtual reality. While we do tend to under estimate the time it takes to perfect products and services in the tech world, it doesn’t mean we should lower our expectations. Pushing the boundaries of what is possible drives the industry, and we should continue to dream, and continue to strive, otherwise those jet packs may never arrive at all. In all seriousness though, IOT has come a long way in a short period of time, but where do we see it going in the future? And are there any companies and devices out there who are already one step ahead of the crowd? You can bet your bottom dollar there is! Below we detail some interesting ideas currently being developed that will help shape the way we build our homes of the future. While some of these ideas may be years away from realization, where possible we will also link to products or companies who are attempting to lead the line with products that are either available now or being released soon. Enjoy!
Some of us love getting our hands dirty in the kitchen, cooking up a storm to impress our family, friends, or just our own taste buds. Some of us however, don’t. Some of us have no cooking skill whatsoever and dread the idea of attempting to cook anything more complicated than a microwavable TV dinner. For this group of people, help will quite literally be ‘at hand’ in the future. Meet Moley, the robotic chef! Don’t be put off by the fact Moley looks like someone has cut C3PO’s arms off and stuck them to the underside of your cupboards, this gadget is actually a hugely impressive personal chef that does pretty much everything a real chef can do, with the exception of launching into an expletive-laden, Gordon Ramsey-esque tirade if it happens to catch you overcooking your Hollandaise sauce. In fact the chances of you needing to cook your own sauce in future is very slim if you happen to have a Moley in your kitchen, as Moley Robotics claim to have put around 2000 recipes into Moley’s ‘brain’, so whether you fancy a spaghetti bolognese or fish and chips, Moley should have you covered.
Moley isn’t simply a pair of arms though, in fact there are four integral components to the world’s first robotic chef, as well as the equipment Moley uses, that will be needed if you want this sort of functionality in the kitchen. The arms, a touchscreen control panel, an oven, and a hob all comes as part of the package, and the team at Moley Robotics would rather you look at Moley as an entire kitchen upgrade, rather than simply “adding a set of robotic arms”. When purchasing a Moley (which if we are lucky could be as soon as next year), you need the whole package, but rest assured that once you have the kitchen set up, the most difficult thing for you to do is choose from the huge range of recipes Moley is capable of following each day.
For the safety conscious out there worrying about having a robot arm flailing around with sharp knives attached, worry not, as a retractable glass screen protects the work area while in operation, so as to eliminate the chances of an Edward Scissorhands re-enactment taking place in your kitchen.
While there are still question marks about this product (which does seem almost too good to be true for 2018), we are sure to have them answered in the coming year, as production mounts up for a 2018 public release.
This is probably the area most of us who grew up watching sci-fi dreamed of, as children. A handy little helper to do the more mundane of household tasks. While there is little doubt that eventually, robots will be helping us around the home in pretty much any way you can think of, currently we are limited to the Roomba type devices that vacuum the floor. In its infancy, IOT is taking baby steps and concentrating on getting robots to do one job well, rather than complicating things by adding multiple skill sets.
Robots such as the slightly oddly named Care-O-bot 4 by Fraunhofer, are looking to change that, by becoming a sort of robot butler. While these robots are not expected to cook the dinner (thats Moley’s job), they can do simple ‘fetch’ tasks, such as getting drinks from the kitchen and serving them to your dinner guests, or due to the multiple cameras, they can be deployed as a sort of robotic guard dog. Other applications can easily be added with software updates, and the robot is customizable in the sense that you can buy it with either two arms, one arm, or none, depending on your preference and budget.
While the Care-O-Bot 4 is still is the product development stage, this robot could actually look quite ‘normal’ in the average home, but for those of you who can’t wait for the release of the latest model, you may want to check out the Care-O-Bot 3, although be warned this version is pretty big, and won’t look quite as slick when charging next to your Chaises Longue. In all seriousness though, we are still quite a way away from having a useful, competitively priced multi-faceted helper. Right now, multiple, single function robots are much more likely to find a place in our homes than these ‘all singing, all dancing’ versions, but even if you find yourself scoffing at the idea of these bulky machines, it is an important step towards realizing the ultimate robotic dream. Give it another ten years of innovation and price drops, and we might be looking at this area with a slightly less cynical eye.
If like many others, you find the idea of exercising after a hard day at work a little tedious, the workout of the future may just get you a little more interested than usual. Take the Icaros, for example. This awesome piece of kit looks like a cross between an arcade flight simulator machine from the 80’s, and a dentist chair, but when combined with a VR headset and the Icaros app, will allow the user to work out while racing around a circuit in the sky. While the actual work out is slightly limited at the moment (only really helping strengthen core muscles, and a sense of balance and body control), down the line it is easy to see how this sort of machine could allow all you fitness fanatics out there to scale the grand canyon, or lift weights in an olympic arena, albeit virtually.
Starting at $9200 in the US, this machine is far from cheap, but as a proof of concept it certainly seems to impress those who have tried it. Fast forward another ten years and we could be looking at a product that helps you work out a little more strenuously, and hopefully will come in a little cheaper. With the quality and accessibility of VR accelerating so quickly, these sort of experiences could become far more mainstream than they are today, and with health issues across the western world partly blamed on a lack of exercise, could products like the Icaros be the answer? Possibly. Until then, you can always strap a VR headset on and jump on the treadmill. For a list of VR apps and workout ideas, check out this article in VR heads.
So, while we may be another decade away from the robots we have always dreamed of, it is obvious to see that they are on their way. The Care-O-Bot may look bulky now, but go back and check out the power and size of the mobile phone you were using ten years ago, and try to imagine where we will be in another ten years from now. With the speed at which our devices are improving, either physically or via software, it is hard to look at the coming decade with anything other than excitement in the world of IOT.