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Top 10 Robotics Companies to Watch at CES 2016

Top 10 Robotics Companies to Watch at CES 2016

Another year, another CES, brimming with start-ups and household names alike, looking to become the next big tech trend. But who will come out victorious? In the first of a six-part series, we give our verdict on the most awe-inspiring hopefuls of the New Year in the Robotics category.

Historically CES has been a platform to get a glimpse of the latest products and technologies, focusing on the emerging and evolving tech companies and robotics will be no exception at CES 2016, with a 71% growth of the Robotics Marketplace from 2015.

There are a lot of companies out there changing and shaping the future of robotics from gaming consoles to household appliances. Let’s take a look at the top 10 robotics companies that are standing out from the crowd out this year at CES.

Reach Robotics

Image: Reach Robotics

Image: Reach Robotics

 

  • Reach Robotics (UK): Developing the world’s first gaming robot, Reach Robotics brings the computer game into the real world by combining gaming, robotics and Augmented Reality together to create a unique experience like no other. With two types of robots, Brute and Berserker, they have created Mecha Monsters that you can collect, customise and compete with, shaping the future of gaming.

Orbbec

  • Orbbec (CN): Breaking ground with its 3D camera creations, Orbbec is changing the way we interact with the world around us. This year at CES they will launch Orbbec Presse, the world’s first intelligent 3D camera-computer, with the ability to hear and understand its environment. This enables it to ‘learn’ from past use making it a pioneering product in the developing world of interactive tech.

Blue Frog Robotics

Blue Frog's Buddy Robot

Blue Frog’s Buddy Robot

 

  • Blue Frog Robotics a.k.a. Buddy (FR): Blue Frog Robotics is leading the way for companion robots with the revolutionary creation Buddy, ‘the worlds first companion robot that is accessible to everyone’. Buddy interacts with each member of the family by entertaining, protecting and assisting them. He challenges the image of robots being hard-edged and cold with his friendly nature and design.

Flower Robotics

  • Flower Robotics (JP): Flower Robotics aims to start a quiet revolution and make robots a natural part of our daily lives with pioneering technology and minimalistic designs. Their mission is to bring joy and enrich people using technology. At CES they will launch Patin. Built around adaptive and learning artificial intelligence Patin can predict and anticipate needs and react to environmental changes – an innovative robot that could be the next step in the evolution of household robots.

Ozobot

  • Ozobot (US): Ozobot is one of the smallest smart robots that is designed to educate children through fun activities. It can teach children how to code and program through gamified learning made for kids of all ages. With the Ozobot app, you can connect the digital and physical world creating a whole new world of play. The tiny robot is equipping children with skills needed for the future.

Leap Motion

  • Leap Motion (US): Augmented and Virtual Reality is making a comeback and 2016 is set to be the year for it, with the likes of Samsung and Oculus Rift set to release VR headsets. But the one to watch out for at CES is Leap Motion who have created innovative technology that allows you to naturally interact with digital and virtual worlds using your hands and your fingers, bringing science fiction to life and breaking the barrier between people and technology. The Leap Motion controller tracks the movement of your hands and allows you to grab, pinch or swipe.

Hexo+

  • Hexo+ (US): Hexo+ is the worlds first autonomous drone that allows you to create amazing aerial footage hands-free. The drone is designed to follow and film allowing you to enjoy the adventure. Using an app, you can control the movement of the drone to capture stunning footage that accurately framed and stable. Hexo+ is an innovative product that allows you to tell your own story through groundbreaking technology.

XYZprinting

XYZprinting's Da Vinci 1.1 Plus 3D Printer

XYZprinting’s Da Vinci 1.1 Plus 3D Printer

 

  • XYZprinting (TW): An exciting ground-breaking company for emerging technologies, XYZprinting has created 3D printers that are affordable and lightweight, making it ideal for commercial use and bringing technology to the masses. The world’s largest 3D printer maker believes that 2D printing will one day be obsolete and they are paving the way for the future of printing.

Double Robotics

  • Double Robotics (US): Helping telecommuters feel more connected and changing the face of remote working, Double Robotics’ creation is Double, a robotic stand that is a simple way to maintain a physical presence. The robot connects to an iPad, is easy to set up and allows the user to move around through a workspace, removing the need to have a fixed place for videoconferences. This will immensely reduce the inconvenience of long-distance travel while ensuring the telecommuter gets a more accurate feel for what they are viewing.

Candy House Inc.

  • Candy House Inc. (US): A design house that creates innovative products to inspire an enjoyable lifestyle, Candy House Inc. is a candy store for futuristic tech. They have raised £1.4 million with their Kickstarter campaign for Sesame, a lock that can be used via an app, reinventing the key. Launched in 2015, Sesame is easy to install and means you lock and unlock from anywhere, powered by a battery that lasts for about 500 days.

Enjoyed this post? Read more of our series on CES 2016 companies to watch:

Robocalypse – are the machines taking over?

From Pepper, the emotional robot and Aiko, the humanoid robot receptionist, to Mecha bot battles and clumsy bipedal robots competing to open doors, there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by without us hearing about the latest exciting development in robotics technology.

Last week, however, robomania struck a new and more ominous tone when a man died at a Volkswagen factory in Germany, crushed by an industrial arm while installing software.

Initial conclusions indicated ‘human error’ was to blame for the accident, while experts rushed to explain that assembly line robots have no independent thought and mis-programming can therefore lead to such incidents, rare as they are.

Of course, that doesn’t make quite as catchy a headline as ‘Robot Kills Man’.

And therein lies an interesting dispute – according to Mashable, robots cause fewer deaths than toilets, zips and trousers at less than one incident a year. Yet social media channels were alive with the sound of fear and scepticism as questions were raised about human safety in the coming era of robotics. One billionaire entrepreneur went as far as to announce a £6m donation to fund research projects dedicated to keeping artificial intelligence under “meaningful human control”.

It’s not as though this is the first time we’ve felt intimidated by the technology either – you need look no further than The Matrix trilogy, I, Robot or Channel 4’s new Humans series to know that humanity is obsessed with the idea of machines conquering the world.

Channel 4's new show demonstrates our obsession with robots.

Channel 4’s new show demonstrates our obsession with robots.

In some ways, maybe we’re right to. After all, how many manufacturers are there that now put products together by hand? In Japan (who, let’s face it, are well and truly leading the pack when it comes to robotics adoption), robots are even being used to plug the skills gap in hospitals and geriatric care as the country battles with a rapidly ageing society.

But it’s not those robots that we generally fear – it’s the ones we’ve created in our own image, capable of emotional reactions and conversation, that truly take us aback and make us question whether we’re not developing the technology too quickly, or whether we’ve really thought through the consequences it could entail.

Personally, I think we’re on the cusp of a critical ethical debate – to build or not to build? Do we play God and push to achieve more than we ever dreamed possible, or do we accept our mortality and admit that some things were just not meant to be because what happens if, one day, our creations turn around and decide they don’t need a God? Then again, it’s not really in our nature to give up when we know that we’re capable of more.

However, I do believe developers and engineers need to take heed of people’s genuine concerns. Yes, perhaps we have been over-sensitised by the media. And yes, when disaster bots end up collapsing in the dust unable to complete the simple task of climbing over some rubble, perhaps we do have a long way to go before we even come close to such a scenario.

But if robots are going to be embedded into everyday life, would it not be wiser to spend some time educating society, instead of ploughing on ahead and making the very concept inaccessible to all but a few? After all, in the famous words of Andrew Smith, “People fear what they don’t understand and hate what they can’t conquer”.

Funny thing, no one actually seems to know who Andrew Smith was – maybe the robots got to him first.