Flying robots communicate, artificial intelligence used for data analytics

Executives from Intel and IBM talked about disruptive changes in purchasing thanks to developments in robotics and the cloud. Examples include unmanned robots flying in sync to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Watson changing data processing's nature from being transactional to cognitive.


Brian Krzanich from Intel and Ginny Rometty from IBM described and gave examples of disruptive changes that involve robots and artificial intelligence developments at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. These disruptive changes, they said, will impact how consumers and businesses transact and interact with their purchases. 

Krzanich described the use of embedded chips and cloud services to enable experience-based transactions, many of which lead to sales but others also lead to enhancing the user's experience. Krzanich provided several examples including:

  1. In a new Guinness World Record for the most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously, 100 flying drones flew and shone their colored lights in sync with an orchestra playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Because it was so colorful, and timed to the music, Krzanich described the event as a potentially safer and reusable replacement for future fireworks shows.
  2. Using augmented reality, the Modiface mirror enables women to try out different looks and make-up choices (blush, eye shadow, lip stick color, foundation, glosses, etc.) and then buy the resulting colors and product selections. Trying on different color combinations is often an embarrassing process done in public in department stores. This augmented reality product is designed to disrupt that process and provide a better experience.
  3. Krzanich also demonstrated a Yuneec Typhoon H with an onboard RealSense 3D camera and chip, enabling a follow-me collision-avoiding drone available later this year as a consumer product.
  4. A pair of Oakley sunglasses provided the sensors and communication to track, interact, coach and provide data extrapolated from sensors tracking the wearer's progress, comparing that progress to set goals, and providing spoken coaching and responsive reports along the way, which ends up making a pair of sunglasses an experience rather than a piece of fashion.

Rometty talked about how Watson and IBM were changing the nature of data processing from transactional to cognitive. Last year Robert High, CTO of IBM's Watson Group, described the emerging era of embodied cognitive leading to providing cognition as a service as a third hand such as a lab technician might need, or as a concierge as Jibo and Echo (and human concierges) offer, as an office assistant might provide, and in field settings like search and rescue. The cognition process involves machines interacting with humans in writing, verbally, with tactile and visual cues, and with gestures. Cognitive algorithms and cloud computing are the keys to Watson's feats and they also happen to be where Rometty has pushed IBM since her tenure began.

Rometty described Watson's progress thus far and demonstrated on stage many areas where applying Watson to an application is changing the nature of the experience. It's not enough to just be able to hear what a user says. Watson must be able to understand what they want, be able to make that happen, and then interact back with the user in as conversational a tone as possible. SoftBank's Pepper robot is an example of how this works. Rometty and SoftBank Robotics' Kenichi Yoshida announced that IBM will provide global distribution and support for SoftBank's Watson-powered Pepper robot as they scale up to begin selling into China and the U.S. 

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as computer direct marketing and materials and consulting to the Democratic National Committee and major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. This article originally appeared on The Robot Report. The Robot Report is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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