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After space exploration and war, robots are ready for their biggest challenge: Conquering the home - TechRepublic


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These robots won't look like humans – they don't need to. A washing machine and dishwasher both do jobs originally done by humans, but neither have arms and legs. But Angle thinks there will soon be one android-style robot in the home: "There is a robot that maybe brings it all together that is focused on interacting with you, this human interface robot, this butler robot.

"You can see the first steps towards this in one of iRobot's latest models. The Ava 500 is the only remotely human-looking robot that the company has, made up of a column topped with a large screen; a roving video-conference robot which can be programmed to meet you at your desk or find its own way to a meeting room. Or glide around the office to come and find you at your desk if you try to skip a meeting (like a Dalek, it can't climb stairs. Yet.)

While the robot is currently sold to the business market, Angle sees this deployment as a proving ground for its eventual move in to the home.The idea is to create a more physical presence for the person at the other end; the screen can be lowered to simulate sitting down, or turn to address other people at a meeting.

Talking to someone via the robot – here and yet not here - is a disconcerting experience because giving them a physical, gliding mobile presence through the robot really does alter the dynamic in a way that a static webcam chat on a laptop never would. It even puts the language we use under strain, plasticising some of the basics of discourse; when I'm talking to one of the iRobot execs who has stayed back at the Boston HQ I ask: "What's it like for you to be here?" even though they aren't 'here' and the 'you' isn't them.

I do wonder if suddenly robots will be everywhere or if they'll slowly steadily rise in popularity.

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