Watch out! Robots are marching into malls

Young entrepreneurs from Cusat and Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara, have displayed futuristic products at Startup Village

Published: 19th November 2012 11:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th November 2012 11:09 AM   |  A+A-


The day is not far away when robots will welcome and offer directions in shopping malls, railway stations, supermarkets, airports, hospitals, banks and even homes or surface tables with multi-touch facilities to address your needs in a restaurant or any showroom.

Young entrepreneurs from Cochin University of  Science and Technology and Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara, have displayed futuristic products at the Startup Village, Kinfra Park, Kalamassery, opened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Friday.

Jayakrishnan T, CEO of Advanced Systems with Intelligence Mobility and Vision, Asimov Robotics, is all set to incubate in Startup Village. He plans to introduce the intelligence service robot assistant (ISRA), an interactive service robot, a prototype of  which was set up at the new block of the Startup Village

The model will be completed in three months. “We are holding discussions with an Italian  firm to supply the face and fingers with fine details including hair follicle so that it will appear more human,” he said.

The robot can be programmed for user-defined behaviour based on application. Jayakrishnan wants to market it for retail and service sectors. He is also holding talks with DRDO for supplying robots for defence and space research and other purposes. It can be applied in agricultural field also, he said.

The ISRA can interact with people through speech and gesture recognition, speak simple phrases. It comprises a five-feet torso with omni directional wheeled locomotion, ultrasonic sensors, proximity detectors and force or load sensors. It has advanced 3-D vision system with mounted cameras on the head and an interactive touch screen located on its chest. Jayakrishnan has been passionate about robotics during his days in Model Engineering College, Thrikkakara, but there were very few avenues for him here.

He readily accepted a marketing job with a US firm as it allowed him to do research in the field and designed a new manipulator and sold it in the US. Now he set up his own company with technical collaboration with the one he was working with.

Sreekumar K R, Nijil Y and Nidal Rashid, just out of Cusat, set up hardware startup Mashinga and conceived a multi-touch surface platform and displayed the prototype. “The surface table is not a product but a platform. We got many queries during the demonstration at Emerging Kerala,” said Sreekumar.

Using open technology they have integrated solutions and the client can scale it up as per their needs. For example, the surface table can be used in a restaurant where the large screen will display the menu and the orders can be placed by pressing a button. This will ease delivery of food. The surface table which is yet to be named can be programmed to respond to the dish placed. For example, if a cup of cappuccino is placed immediately a range of toppings that can go with will appear on the screen. Depending on the software it can be used for multipurpose applications. It can also be used as interactive window shopping.

They are also working on developing an interactive e-book, with interactive animation   A BLESSING Both Mashinga and Asimov Robotics find the Startup Village a blessing. Mentoring and other facilities are given.

“I wanted a better space and here import duty is exempted. Parts are not available in our country and I have to pay 34 per cent as import duty. The other attraction here is angel fund,” said Jayakrishnan.

The full-fledged version of the service robot may cost between Rs 50 to Rs 60 lakh. Other versions can be had for half the price.

As for the table, Microsoft offers it for Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh while our version will cost about Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh and will cost lesser with mass production, said Sreekumar.

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