Since the days of the Jetsons, the promise of home automation has centered on the realization of practical robots. As we move forward into an explosion of connected possibilities and the rise of the robot era, what role will robots play in the future of the smart home?
Individualized mobile applications, smart systems and connected devices with siloed functionality are growing exponentially and we are spiraling out of control in an attempt to micromanage the smart home. To truly improve our lives, a smart home must understand physical space and predict human behavior in context, removing complexity and making our lives easier. The key to building a smarter home lies in thinking of the house as a system that can be mapped and predict our intent.
Home robots provide the essential link between our physical and digital lives. They will map our environment and play a key role in creating the scalable, connected home in which smart devices act together based on contextual information about the physical environment and human patterns. Technologies currently in development – particularly in the areas of navigation, manipulation and cloud robotics – are driving the next wave of practical robots that will help make the promise of home automation a reality.
As the VP of Technology at iRobot, Chris Jones is responsible for overseeing long-term technology planning and strategy to advance robots to interact naturally in human environments. Along with iRobot’s team of scientists and engineers, he has identified and overseen the development of technologies behind revolutionary products such as the new Roomba 980 – which brought iRobot into the smart home with intelligent visual navigation, app control and wi-fi connectivity – as well as the Ava 500 telepresence robot and numerous bomb disposal robots. He is also driving forward technologies that will lead to a new generation of robots that help people throughout the home, including in the important areas of mapping, navigation, cloud robotics and manipulation.
Chris has more than 18 years of experience in robotics research and development, including prior roles with the Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems at the University of California, the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Zurich, the Intelligent Southern Systems and Robotics Center at Sandia National Laboratories, and the Robotics Research Lab at Texas A&M University. This also includes a prior role in which he was tasked with building a robot that was completely soft and squishy – something that had never been done before.