From Smartphones to Skynet — How Handset Technology Could Power Home Robots

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Are you watching the transformation of the mobile Internet? Though there are roughly 400 million smartphones compared to 4.6 billion cellular voice subscribers in the world, the shift to “information everywhere” is on. This movement is picking up speed as smartphone sales increase at a faster rate than those of feature phones. But this wave will crest at some point and I keep wondering what’s behind it. In other words, what will the next wave bring us? I’ve been craning my neck to see beyond smartphone adoption, and in the horizon, I see one potential answer: robots. (I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming!)

For the past few decades, we’ve read or heard about robots in homes, but the reality is that robots of today are mainly used for industrial or military purposes — devices generally too expensive for consumer use. But I explore the potential for inexpensive home robots in a GigaOM Pro thought piece (subscription required), based on the premise that today’s advanced smartphone technology could be used to power basic home robots. Consider this: Today’s high-end handsets have key attributes and features that an intelligent robot could use: sight, hearing, speech, a power-efficient brain and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to connect to the vastly larger “brain” we call the Internet.

Indeed, one enterprising group of hobbyists have added inexpensive mobility to the first Android handset, the G1, and are experimenting with the native voice commands feature to control this little robot.

I’m not suggesting we’ll see robots in every home over the next few years, nor will any inexpensive robotic devices offer any complex intelligence or feature sets in the near future. But when I step back and look at how powerful our smartphones have become — and how much smarter they’re about to get — I see a world of possibilities when such technologies are applied to robots.

Read the full post here.

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