Workplace Robots at CES: For The Future of Work...and For Us
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
Announcing the new Ava UV Disinfection Robot in anticipation of CES has brought a new awareness around not only robotic workplace health and safety solutions, but also the role robots stand to play in the workplace overall. In 2021 and beyond, that role will be significant.
Without question, there is some CES robot FOMO in play when it comes to the virtual event experience. Not physically interacting with robots on the floor is certainly a gap. It would be fair, however, to say some of the robots at this year’s CES have a much larger purpose than to surprise and delight. Even the charming mental health robots that look like furry pets have a larger purpose to help combat loneliness, yet another byproduct of the pandemic. The pandemic tech and companion robots at CES tell a meaningful, optimistic story (of which we are in dire need).
For any discussion around future states, presenting impactful solutions and showing promise is more important than ever. With this in mind, CES has a great opportunity to educate, offering, and discussing new robots and emerging robotic technologies in a new light. One that shows how robots enable people and drive results.
UV Disinfection Robots - Workplace Mainstays
Although UV disinfection isn’t considered new tech, the new workplace protocols and expectations are driving robots to deliver this technology in more meaningful and lasting ways. The Washington Post sums it up nicely: “More virus-zapping robots are coming, and they’re here to stay.” It’s one thing to say virus-zapping robots have stepped up to the plate for Covid response initiatives within the workplace. But to position UV disinfection robots as a mainstay in offices, warehouses, retail environments, hotels, and more--that's helping design the future of work.
A new Ava robot that can immediately contribute to and extend that story is a powerful offering. Deploying our UV robot in a variety of workplace settings, including office, communal, and warehouse spaces at Retail Business Services and Steelcase, has already provided us with valuable feedback around perception, access, and expectations. We predict that businesses will be expanding their technology horizons as they look to bring people back into their spaces while accommodating a distributed, forever changed, workforce.
UV disinfection robots perform a valuable duty in practice, but they also serve as a component in a larger workplace best practices context. Knowing a business is doing everything in their power to take care of customers, clients, employees, etc., inspires peace-of-mind that, in turn, enables positive business outcomes.
Robots Helping Power the Future of Work
The workplace challenges we will continue to face are opportunities to solve for pre-existing conditions many businesses didn’t even realize they had. The pandemic has pressed a lot of familiar buttons: communication, health & safety, operational efficiency, employee/customer satisfaction. But it just pressed them a lot harder than anyone could have anticipated.
An additional context CES kept at the forefront of discussion is the future of work, namely working from home. With the knowledge of so many attendees being remote workers, CES had to bear in mind that people would be actively seeking technology products and services to improve their WFH experiences. In his article leading into CES, Rob Enderle discusses the importance of content around how to “...highlight the gaps in current offerings to help companies plan for an extended WFH world. This approach is particularly timely as companies come to believe that remote work is less transitory and more permanent.”
There are undeniable pros and efficiencies stemming from a distributed, more self-reliant, and fluid workforce. But getting to the point where those benefits can be fully appreciated by more businesses is a trial-and-error test of endurance. Presence disparity, work-life cultural obscurities, and employee satisfaction all factor into the overall workplace experience (whether on-site or anywhere else in the world).
Ava Robots for Communication & Operation
Ava Telepresence Robots speak to distributed, hybrid, and remote work challenges in a way that creates more of an open system for not only collaboration, but also user experience. If people are going to use robots to connect with one another, explore a space, or observe processes within the workplace, the first and last piece of the puzzle is user experience. If a telepresence robot intended to connect people to people isn’t designed with human perception and interaction in mind, it’s not much different from any other device with a screen.
Since Ava spun out of iRobot in 2016, we’ve operated and created with the vision of robots empowering people and productivity in the workplace. The Ava Telepresence Robot continues to provide more immersive and effective remote collaboration, facilitating communication for a variety of businesses, across industries. Our growing partnership with Cisco Webex is a testament to our commitment to collaboration technology and equipping enterprise businesses for the future of work.
The addition of the UV Disinfection Robot brings us closer toward a continuum of workplace robotic solutions, but it is important to note that the core base technology that delivers on autonomy, access, and quality is what makes a robot an Ava robot.
With any luck, the pandemic will be a “remember when” at this point next year. Everyone will be able to walk through impressive displays and experience robots and other emerging technologies at CES in the visual, tactical ways we know and love. And, with growing data and story lines from 2021, there will be further proof that robots are working with and for people to take the future of work in a healthy, safe, happy, and productive direction.
To learn more about robots in the workplace, or to see how Ava's fully-autonomous telepresence and UV disinfection robots can extend your business capabilities, get in touch with us.