Where Are we at With Social Robotics?

Social Robots, are here to stay and the exciting news is that the experts foresee that one day they’ll be affordable…

Social Robotics

As a team, we are obsessed with technology and developments in our industry. Singapore is an exciting place to be with regards to their advances in social robotics, so our Executive Recruiter Abigail Lim, at Cogs Singapore, went to a fascinating breakfast conference last week ‘Asia Pacific Digital Disruption, The Next Set of Waves’; which covered  the rise of mobile, social and ecommerce as well as the more revolutionary developments from The Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Here are the top takeaways from the event:

Where are we with social robotics? Are we at a pivoting point for areas such as AR/VR? 

A ‘Robot’ is defined as anything that can track data and is responsive to information. For example, a self-driving car, a smart home device like a lamp.  A ‘Social Robot’ is an autonomous robot that interacts and communicates with humans (or other physical agents) by following social behaviours and rules.  The exciting news is that the experts for industry foresee that “social robots” will be affordable (in the $thousands) within the next 10 years! Social robots have the potential to be a home assistant/ daily companion especially in environment such as home care.

VR research started 20 years ago, and despite its leaps and bounds, there remains an issue with the cost of ownership. Content is still not automated which is heavy on human work and contribution. The Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore is working on is working on Nadine (costs $250,000 now). She is a remarkably life-like robot who responds to social cues.

Being practical, how can companies start using technologies such as Social Robotics? 

Most research is based on promises and reality is that we live in a physical space. Businesses such as Uber and Airbnb kick-started the sharing economy. This will accelerate with 2 key priorities:

  • 1) Seamless experience between online and offline.
  • 2) Personalised experience through data and information. E.g., recommendation of which tee to buy based on brainwave activity and emotion.

Is partnership/ collaboration the way forward or are businesses able to do it in-house? 

Trying to do everything in-house is not practical due to the high costs base and the lack of holistic understanding of market advancement.  For example, there is a community of 50+ banks looking at block-chain integration. The same results will take a bank 10+ years to do it in-house.

What about Data and Security? 

  • It is relatively secured for large data sets for industries such as finance.
  • Concern of security lies in personal data. What information should be shared? Most are not aware that information is released when they sign up for apps or new services.
  • Data derived from digital click-throughs are still not utilised. Marketers are still using traditional customer segments for campaigns. Given the data today, every person is a segment on their own.
  • E.g. GPS technology and regulations will Ensure that drones are not allowed or workable within certain flying spaces.
  • E.g. in business travel environment, there is luxury of data. 1) Today it’s used for corporates to revamp corporate travel policies for cost efficiency. 2) Using predictive data, the traveller (who travels for the same conference annually) can be alerted to book very specific hotels/tickets in a better planned manner.


It was a fantastic and insightful event with brilliant speakers. Advances in VR/AR promise to dramatically increase the possibilities of experiential design and marketing and much more, and it’s clear Asia Pacific is likely to play a crucial role in the development and adoption of these technologies.

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