Is it too early to talk Christmas? I think not, because according to an article from the Boston Herald, robots might be roaming the mobbed malls of America alongside we humans to ensure that we are the smartest little consumers this side of the North Pole as early as next holiday season. Developed by Bedford based iRobot, Ava is a “multi-purpose robot that looks a little like a five-foot pole on wheels with an iPad, or other tablet computer, for a head,” according to the Herald article.
According to the Herald, the idea is to combine traditional in-store shopping with online shopping where you have the vast resources of the Internet to do as much research as you need on a product before making a purchase.
From the Herald:
“Brick and mortar stores have been at a disadvantage,” iRobot CEO Colin Angle told the Herald yesterday. “They haven’t figured out how to inform the customer at the shelf. People can touch and feel products, but they’re relying on their own judgment, without the judgment of others.”
According to iRobot’s website, Ava will have WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities as well as user interface options such as touch, voice, gesture and person-following.
For skeptics who question the necessity of a robot that follows you around in the mall that provides information on its iPad head – information you can likely find on the phone in your pocket, consider Ava’s other potential applications.
According to the iRobot site, Ava could “enable family and professional caregivers to deliver high quality care through virtual visits,” as well as “provide remote monitoring to ensure enterprise safety and security.”
The Herald reports that Ava will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars, but the cost should diminish over time (likely upon the release of Ava 2, the robot that just eats your Christmas list and does your shopping for you).
Ava will be able to independently navigate itself by building maps of its environment and according to iRobot’s site, it “detects and avoids people, objects and hazards such as stairs.”
Could you even imagine being halfway up an escalator and seeing a blind and dumb Ava barreling down at you? Yeah, it better be a good navigator.
I expected Robots to replace the salesmen and women of the world. Maybe they’ll replace the customers first.