engineers in Boston Dynamics It has created a bot with a wide range of industrial use cases, from work safety to digital data collection and more. But they realized when they got close to the commercial version of spot That user experience was lacking. And as we know, if the users do not want to use the tool, it will not be used.
So the Boston Dynamics team contacted right To develop an easy-to-use bot experience. Ben Johnson, Senior Vice President of Digital Products at Rightpoint, was part of the team that helped make Spot more attractive to those who will work with it. Here, we discuss the project…
Industry smart: How has your team helped Spot achieve commercial viability?
Ben: It helped us visualize what the driving experience should be like – what it’s like to use a tablet to control an amazing robot like Spot. Boston Dynamics realized that this was a gap for them in terms of the overall experience, which is why they pursued Rightpoint. We have helped them deliver a great control experience in a short amount of time. What would have taken Boston Dynamics more than a year to build, we accomplished in six months. Ultimately, this helped them ship their first 100 robots. Moving from a laptop driving experience to a tablet included with every Spot Robot was a huge improvement.
As a partner at Boston Dynamics, we’re excited to help organizations considering an autonomous bot, such as Spot, with their deployments. Spot is a great platform with many different possibilities. We’re really passionate about helping organizations discover the best way to use them to solve critical business problems.
Smart Industry: How wide/common is the gap between bots capabilities and implementation/user experience?
Ben: I think this is a huge field of opportunity. Scary robots. Most of them don’t behave the way our phones or tablets do, but that interaction and touch response is what we, as consumers and software users, expect every day. Look at the robotics industry — these companies solve incredibly complex physical challenges, build something that can traverse different terrains, manipulate physical objects, and understand the environment around them through computer vision. Just getting this robot to work is the most challenging part of the equation. And I think a lot of organizations don’t have the time or the difference to focus on what the end user is going to experience when they connect to this bot through a device like a phone or tablet or some sort of screen connected to it he-she.
As far as reform, I think this is where institutions like Rightpoint come in. We have the knowledge and experience to help organizations get to market faster, to build those connected products and connected experiences and help them shine. But I think organizations are getting better at this and realize that user experience is getting more and more important.
Industry Smart: How did Star Wars affect this process?
Ben: Rogue One came out while we were developing the first versions of the Android tablet app that controls Spot and there are some amazing graphical interfaces throughout this movie. Through initial discovery meetings, we found out that a lot of Boston Dynamics engineers got into robotics because of Star Wars. Our lead stylist is a huge fan (aside, he even designs Star Wars-inspired Halloween costumes every year…think about the specific quality levels for the movies). In terms of impact, a lot of it was about the graphical representation of the various controls within the tablet’s driving experience, animations, and header info. I will say that it was very interesting to see that Disney used Spot later in the “Boba Fett Book”.
Smart Industry: Describe a remote operation use case.
Ben: Spot is used for line-of-sight operations (anyone can see Spot and move it) as well as remote operation where they can’t physically see the robot but can look through its cameras. This is a very common use case for Spot once its tasks (predefined paths and actions) have been created and operators want to check in to see how/where the Spot is.
Smart Industry: What are the most pressing challenges/opportunities regarding the adoption of robots in manufacturing?
Ben: In keeping with the example above, I think the experience of using a bot is a big part of the adoption challenge within the industry. The easier and more intuitive it is to set up, route, and verify automated assets, the faster the botnet will grow. This is why I liked Spot so much from the start – it’s an amazingly capable and easy-to-use bot that brings sensors to your assets and reports to you! The easier this becomes, the more spots you will see in the world.
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