Mobile Monday Bristol #10: AI and Robotics

Mar 13, 2017

This past Monday evening, the first in March, 50 tech hungry souls descended on the McCann office in Bristol to ease their mind with a dose of knowledge courtesy of a packed out Mobile Monday.

Mobile Monday, or MoMo to it’s friends, is a series of events held across the world aimed at bringing those interested in mobile together to demo products, share ideas and discuss trends, all of course on a Monday. This was Bristol’s 10th MoMo and it delivered a fantastic theme, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

After alleviating their actual hunger by picking up a slice or five from what can only be described as a feast of pizza, guests grabbed a drink, took a seat and settled in for two fascinating talks.

Momo Pizza

Mark Stewart, the newly appointed CTO at Mubaloo, kicked the talk off by tackling the subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Mark covered topics from AI’s strengths and weaknesses to industries ripe to be disrupted by AI. Mark identified healthcare as one of these industries where the combination of AI, robotics and voice interfaces could make a real difference to the care for the elderly. He sees the potential for AI and voice interfaces to trigger and remind elderly patients to take medicine or eat a meal, therefore allowing better care to be provided within a patient’s home. Mark also sees the potential for robots to take on some of the more manual tasks in caring for the elderly, allowing carers to spend more time tackling a patient’s mental health needs.

MoMo Dyson

Following on from Mark was Mike Aldred, the man behind the team who created the Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Cleaner. Mike took the attendees through some of the challenges in creating a vacuum cleaning robot and how the Dyson 360 Eye overcame these. The main focus being on how it navigates, the Dyson 360 Eye uses a panoramic camera that identifies straight lines and corners within a room and uses these to triangulate and track its position. The use of a panoramic camera also allows it to see the majority of the room even when right up against a wall or obstacle, allowing it to continue to track its position successfully. When Mike first joined Dyson to start this project, James Dyson made it clear to him that he was there to design and build a vacuum cleaning robot, not a robot that can vacuum clean, since a great robot that only does a half a job when vacuuming is not going to be of any benefit to customers.

Having a customer/user centric approach to a product is well practised at Mubaloo but it was great to hear a new and different success story from another industry. Mike finished up by recounting some stories on the importance of user testing from this project. It was really interesting to hear how gaining user’s trust emerged as a key challenge and how at first many customers will only run the Dyson 360 Eye when they are in the house. To combat this, the app that accompanies the Dyson 360 Eye displays a map of where it has cleaned so that customers can gain confidence in what it is doing even when they are not home.

After a short break for another drink or to sneak in one more slice of pizza, the evening finished with a panel discussion on the future of AI and robotics. Mark and Mike were joined by Mark Woods, Head of Autonomy and Robotics at SCISYS where he focuses on robotics for space exploration. It was really insightful to hear their views from 3 very different industries with the audience adding further observations and questions. A great way to end an engaging and thought provoking evening.

I’d like to finish by saying a massive thank you to Alana Pearson, Chris Taylor and Ashleigh Evans for organising and to McCann for hosting. Keep your eyes peeled for the next MoMo by following @MoMoBristol and @Mubaloo.

Simon Bacon, Junior Mobile Strategy Analyst.

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