One of the coolest advances in recent years has been the consumerization of robotics. Whether it’s the Roomba or the Pleo, we’ve seen robots go from only being in movies and auto factories to becoming devices that can both help and entertain us. It’s an important trend in technology, and it’s all made possible because of the simplification of robotics and, more importantly, the simplification of how we interact with these products. Cubelets are a great example of this and they are something that I’m excited to get my hands on.
Cubelets are a robotic construction kit out of Carnegie Mellon’s Computational Design Lab’s roBlocks project. We ordered a set after seeing prototypes at Maker Faire Bay 2011. They finally arrived late 2011 after we’d forgotten all about them. There were no instructions at all. It was wonderful!!!
Our whole family explored the blocks and were rewarded by all sorts of actions and interactions. Something always worked. Often in a very surprising fashion. We shared our discoveries. Since then the cubelets have sat on the living room table and everyone who comes to the house plays with them. They are incredibly tactile and satisfying. Show anyone a simple critter or how one block works and they immediately create something new.
Sal Cangeloso from Geek.com is right that the consumerization of robotics is one of the coolest things in years. Even though on the whole, robotics is reaching out to SMEs and service industries rather than providing home robots, the democratization of technology means that as more robots are made, more robots become cheaper.
But I find that the coolest thing about cubelets is the user experience. They are easy and tactile. Anyone can use an ipad. Anyone can use a cubelet. As some forms of robotics (and augmented realities) embrace really simple and satisfying user experiences, then I foresee a rich environment for amazing technological growth.
btw… watch the ad 8)