Jack Uldrich
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Meet Your Future, Shape-Shifting Robotic Butler

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One of the fun things about being a futurist is trying to understand how the convergence of various emerging technologies might lead to the creation of radically different products in the future.

For instance, consider these two articles which, on their face, appear to have little in common with one another. The first article announced that four robotics companies in Japan are uniting in an effort to create a mainstream market for robots. (For fans of accelerating technological change, please note how they hope to increase by ten-fold the number of domestic robots employed in Japan by 2013). The second article discusses how researchers at the The Franhofer Institute in Europe are making impressive progress in having computers anticipate human needs.

Now, one of the largest markets for robots in Japan is to have them serve the country’s growing—and rapidly aging—population of senior citizens. If the new alliance of Japanese robotic companies—which is known as the Federation for the Market Creation of Next-Generation Robots—gains access to some of the “human anticipation software” that the Franhofer Institute is developing, it is reasonable to believe that soon robots will not only be able to perform basic functions they will also be able to anticipate many of their owners needs.

If one further considers that iRobot is now developing a shape-shifting robot and that Hasbro Electronics is building a robot capable of serenading you, it is even possible that your robotic butler of the future will be able to sing you a catchy tune while cleaning those hard-to-reach places in your kitchen.

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