We are in the midst of a robotics revolution. The global robotics market, valued at $71 billion in 2015, will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17 percent to reach $135.4 billion by 2019, according to International Data Corporation. A significant percentage of this will be composed of the service robotics market, which includes technologies such as robot drivers that are estimated to be worth $23.90 billion in their own right by 2022, according to Markets and Markets.
Advances in robotics are increasingly being paired with another revolutionary technology: smartphones. Here’s a look at some of the ways the smartphone revolution is paving the way for robotics innovation.
One of the most popular applications of smartphones is photography. In fact, many people buy smartphones for their camera features as much as for their phone capability. Smartphone photography has recently received a boost from one of the most popular forms of robots: drones.
One way that drones work with smartphone photography is by enabling you to use drones as flying cameras to take flying and “follow-me” selfies. For instance, the SELFLY phone case doubles as a detachable, autonomous flying camera drone. You can carry the SELFLY as a case and then, when you’re ready to take pictures, snap the case off and release your camera drone. SELFLY takes off and hovers by itself, and its position can be controlled by your smartphone. With an LTE-capable smartphone such as an iPhone 6s Plus, you can even use drones to take photos from beyond your line of sight, dramatically expanding your subject and perspective options.
Another emerging application of smartphone robotics is in the field of service robots, says Qualcomm senior director of engineering Chad Sweet. One way young smartphone users are being introduced to this type of application is through smartphone-controlled robot toys. For example, Hasbro’s Smart R2-D2 is a small replica of the world-famous “Star Wars” droid. Smart R2-D2 can be controlled via an app through select Android, iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch devices. Users can make Smart R2-D2 move in any direction, play music and dance.
A practical application of this type of technology is HammacherSchlemmer’s smartphone-controlled home patrolling robot. The robot, which can be controlled by iPhone or iPad, roams your house with a 1080p camera that transmits a live video and audio feed via Wi-Fi to your iOS device. A microphone and speaker let you talk to your kids or pets from a remote location. Some hotel chains are using this type of technology to have robots deliver room service to guests.
Another important application of smartphone robotics is education. Chad Sweet says that smartphones are a great tool for teaching students about robotics because they’re already used to the technology. Smartphones and robots also are pairing up to teach kids in other areas.
For instance, a South Korean telecommunications provider has developed Smart Robot Albert. Albert helps kids play over 60 educational games through Android apps, incorporating both digital methods and traditional analog methods such as flashcards, books and board games. Accessories such as smart pens and smart dice work in conjunction with the apps.
In the United States, the Ozobot platform works with iOS and Android devices to enable digital gaming. It also can interact with physical game boards. Ozobot games are being incorporated into classrooms at all grade levels to teach science, technology, math and engineering skills.
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