Why robots' communications skills should be localised

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on November 13, 2019 | Last updated on November 13, 2019 at 10.34 pm
Jacky's Business Solutions and Softbank were the first to introduce Pepper in the region.

(File photo)

Developers to play key role and helping robots enhance, streamline communicating experience

Robots are slowly but surely taking its place in several industries, but it won't be enough that they gesture or speak - they need to be programmed in a manner that will cater to local users and customers to make the interaction a hassle-free experience.

Dubai-based Jacky's Business Solutions and Japan's Softbank are working to introduce cloud-based robotic management systems, which would provide flexibility for end-users, allowing them to personalise robots for uses that suit their needs.

The companies, which first introduced Softbank's Pepper robot in the region, have been scouring the region for dedicated individuals and groups for this endeavour.

"We want this to be our region - our robot. We want to work with developers in the region," Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky's Business Solutions, told Khaleej Times recently.

"We do see the interest from developers," he added. "We've also conducted regular workshops and trainings in the last year."

A key feature in the region that should really be taken into consideration is a system's ability to support Arabic. Big tech companies - especially in the consumer electronics space - have been coordinating with local and regional individuals and groups to bring this to users, particularly to locals who want to interact in their mother tongue.

Panjabi says that the company wants to have more local apps; it is working with partners from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and others to expand the ecosystem.

"Having local developers work on the Arabic language for robots really adds value," Nicolas Boudot, vice-president of Emea business and marketing at Softbank Robotics Europe, added.

"Conversation is important, and people do appreciate specifically a humanoid robot [that uses their own language]."

The robotic market, he added, is still maturing - starting even in some areas - so there is still a lot of work and education to be done.

"People are working on expanding the value of robots, using easy-to-use cloud-based management systems for faster return on investment," Boudot said.

This, in turn, would "transform into real value for businesses".

Panjabi agrees: Once upon a time, robots were meant for entertainment purposes. Nowadays, they're more serious at their 'work'.

"It's all about versatility. Before, robots entertained, but now they can do more," he added.

"We have really been building the foundations and roots of the partner ecosystem to come with solutions developed locally to fill local customers' needs," Boudot added.

Among the local entities that have been utilising their offerings are the Roads and Transport Authority, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Emirates NBD. More are in the pipeline, Panjabi added.


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