CES 2020: Is this robot concierge the future of service robots?

Misty II is a cute robot with big hospitality industry aspirations.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Misty II, a cute robot that looks like a toy but whose creators designed it for real work, is part of a growing number of programmable, task-agnostic robots for the enterprise. Don't be surprised if you see this cute little bot rolling down a hotel hallway in the near future.

There's a trend in automation toward task-agnostic platforms. More and more, robots are being designed not with a single purpose in mind (weld this, lift that) but with a set of capabilities that can be deployed in myriad ways and applied to a number of use cases.

Also: CES 2020: Ford wants this two-legged robot to deliver packages to your door 

But what good is a task agnostic platform if you have to start from scratch to program it? In the service robotics sector, which includes robots designed to work in crowded, semi-structured spaces like restaurants, hospitals, and hotels, it's especially imperative that developers have a good base to build on when programming an autonomous mobile robot.  

Which explains why Misty Robotics, the creators of Misty II, used CES to launch the Misty as a concierge application template, which provides developers with the baseline starting point to put Misty II to work quickly. The Misty II application templates are open source code for developers to build upon and customize for a specific assignment or task. 

This is a critical moment for Misty. Their hardware has received positive reviews, but market penetration depends both on need and ease of adoption. Making phenomenal hardware but failing on the other two counts has spelled death for a number of other robotics firms.

"Since the launch of Misty II, we have received interest for a variety of use cases and wanted to provide developers a fast and easy way to get started using Misty in a business environment. One of the most popular requests has been to use Misty as a concierge or office greeter so we created the Misty as a Concierge application template to give developers a starting point to accelerate deployment," said Ian Bernstein, Founder and Head of Product of Misty Robotics and founder Sphero, the connected toy company. "With more utility application templates planned in 2020, we will continue to support our mission to help the community make robots a useful part of our daily lives in business and personal settings." 

Healthcare has been an area of rapid growth in the robotics sector, particularly in nations like Japan where an aging population is dealing with the double whammy of a labor squeeze and increased need for care. Misty II is no doctor, but social robots are gaining currency as important assets in hospitals and nursing homes. 

Misty II is designed to detect humans, greet them, and interact organically to provide information and responses. It's compatible with third-party API's such as Wolfram Alpha, FourSquare, and others. Additional functionality developers can bake in includes point of sale systems, reservations, and call for assistance.

The templates, available for download on GitHub, are a good indication at the future of robotics, which is task-agnostic, open-source, and limited only to the bounds of the developer community's imagination.

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