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Artificial Intelligence Just Got Much More Real

Artificial Intelligence (AI).

We’re all familiar with the term – one that’s existed since the 1950s when computer scientist John McCarthy coined the term during his work.

And as the decades have rolled on since then, we’ve seen fantastic advances in AI and robotics translate to a growing presence in many more sectors and industries.

The concept isn’t just the realm of science-fiction anymore. It’s now prominent in aviation, automobiles through driverless cars, manufacturing, computing, and mobile technology through voice recognition and mobile personal assistants. And they’re just a few areas!

One other area where AI is growing is in the home. Specifically, in home appliances…

Dyson’s Got Super Cyclones… But This Vacuum Talks to You

Take Sharp (SHCAF), for example…

The company is no longer just inventing household products. It’s inventing interactive household products that are changing the way we do boring, everyday chores.

Like vacuum cleaning.

Some folks find it therapeutic. Others find it satisfying.

I find it dull.

But Sharp is adding a bit of entertainment to the process, with its Cocorobo robotic vacuum cleaner.

Forget Dyson and Hoover… this bad boy talks to you. Using interactive voice recognition technology, the company has programmed it to understand and speak phrases in Japanese, Chinese and English.

It even has feelings. Quoted on Humans Invent, Sharp says, “Depending on how it feels, its words and movement vary a lot, so you gain a feeling of closeness with it.”

Now, you might think this is just some fancy gimmick. But many Japanese folks would disagree. In fact, Sharp has sold more than 100,000 Cocorobos over the past year.

And it’s given Sharp a platform to expand its range of interactive household appliances…

Your Microwave Becomes Your Own Personal Chef

Often, innovation is about taking chances. Especially when it comes to a completely unknown, unproven market.

I’m not sure if Sharp foresaw the success of Cocorobo, but it’s essentially given the company the impetus to test more ideas with “electronics that talk.”

For example…

  • It’s developed a microwave that suggests food pairings.
  • It’s also got an air purification system that tells the owner it’s detected dirty air. That’s basically the cue that the machine is about to crank into life. It also tells the owner that, “I want a drink of water” when its water tank is empty and alerts them to any maintenance or troubleshooting issues.

Sharp’s philosophy here is pretty simple: “Home appliances are developed to make users’ work household work easier. In the future, Sharp believes that the relationship between home appliances and users will become closer. Therefore, we’ve incorporated AI in our products, which allows users to have friendly and more human-like communication with the product. We think AI is a key path in the development of home appliances.”

As such, Sharp is also working on washing machines and fridges with built-in AI.

With a rich history of technological innovation, it’s perhaps little surprise that the Japanese are harnessing a decades-old concept to turn the mundane into the marvelous. And it’s one that’s perfect for tech nerds, hapless homeowners… and just those who hate household chores.

Ahead of the tape,

Martin Denholm

Martin Denholm

, Managing Editor

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