When the robot revolution of the 21st century is over, the future of office automation will look very different.
Robots, after all, are not only coming into the workplace but into every single one of us, says Michael Crichton, CEO of the technology company Ricoh.
“There’s a real opportunity for automation to be very effective in terms of reducing human-to-human interactions, which has been shown to lead to increased productivity, lower turnover and improved employee engagement,” Crichtons chief executive officer says.
“And it’s a huge opportunity for businesses, who want to have a truly automated team.”
Robots have arrived on the scene, but how well they will work in the future remains to be seen.
The first robots to work in large companies are expected to arrive in the second half of next year.
“There is a lot of interest around the use of robots in the workplace, particularly for support roles,” says Michael Brown, senior lecturer in human-computer interaction at Oxford University.
“[They] can work independently of a human, can do tasks in the absence of a supervisor and they can also work as part of a team,” he adds.
Brown, who was a professor of human-machine interaction at Cambridge University, says there are two types of robots currently on the market.
First, there is the robotic arm.
This type of robotic arm is used to support the person in front of the robot.
It’s capable of moving the arm, picking up objects, adjusting the arm position, and even moving the person.
The second type of robot is a pair of hands that can be used to assist the person using their thumbs and forearms.
These are referred to as a “human-machine interface”.
These robots have been designed to work with humans, but it’s still unclear what role these hands will play in the near future.
There’s also the option of an “automation helper”, which can be connected to the robot via Bluetooth and is able to control the robot remotely.
Ricoh is working with various partners to create a suite of applications and robots that can help businesses and individuals interact with one another more easily.
For example, the company is working on a system that will help people who suffer from anxiety and depression get through stressful events.
But this is just one example of how robots are being introduced into the office, and it’s likely that the technology will be used across a range of industries over the next few years.
What do you think of these new robots?
Are they better than humans?
Share your views in the comments section below.