Redefining Robots to Innovate Brand Experience

27 Apr 2014|Caroline van der Pool

Robots normally conjure images of metallic humanoids roaming among us serving our needs or seeking world domination. For someone not in the high-tech sector, robots may seem very distant and sci-fi. But if you ignore the physical form of robots and focus on the artificial intelligence that enables robots to be, robots are not very far from any of us. Robots can basically take on any form and application. The autonomic sliding door that greets patrons is a robot, self-driving cars are robots and some could even argue that smartphones are small personal robots.

It’s a broad definition that could practically cover every technological object out there, but maybe that is how we should start viewing everything around us. We are surrounded by robots. This isn’t too far-fetched when you start thinking about objects like the Nest Thermostat. Here is a robot whose sole job is to maintain an ideal indoor temperature. Owners can tell Nest what they want from anywhere in the world and Nest can also make its own decisions based on observations of its owners. “Good Morning, Nest. Good Morning, Dave.”

nest

Our objects are taking on human characteristics and on the flip side we are taking on robotic characteristics with devices like Google Glass and FitBit. Even the smartphone in your pocket is supplying you with superhuman mental processing power. Consumers are getting stronger…better….faster; taking on more cybernetic strengths to communicate and engage from anywhere, anytime. We are experiencing the convergence of man and machine, with the degree of difference shrinking every day.

We are no longer restricted to engaging with a product and/or service when we are physically in the same location. Who would have ever thought that people could speak and adjust their thermostats from hundreds of miles away? Products are also no longer restricted to acting when prompted either. The Nest thermostat can automatically adjust if you leave your home and forgot to turn it down.

As consumers become more technologically connected they are expecting the ability to communicate with more of their things. Even if those things have typically been silent. Take clothing for example. In the near future clothing brands will be using nanotech-inspired fabrics to create fashion that can be modified based on moods or the weather. Now this may be far off, but brands today could start to explore what customers wish their clothes could tell them. What need could clothes automatically address? Personally, I wish my clothes could tell me if I look stylish or out-of date. Maybe adding a voice to clothes simply means creating an app that could automatically tell a consumer when they are at risk for being unstylish. Nestlé Fitness recently explored this idea by giving a bra (yes, just 1) a voice by inserting a special mechanism in the clasp that would send a tweet about breast cancer prevention each time the clasp is undone. Imagining silent products talking/thinking, could help any brand discover unique and creative ways to engage that don’t necessarily have to be high-tech.

tweeting bra

Imagine your products and even services as robots. Imagine they are the personal assistants we envision robots to be and discover news ways to engage and communicate with your customers. Robots will inspire ways to proactively engage and create unique personalized experiences.

Written by Caroline van der Pool, Strategic Director, Consulting.

Image credits: IStock, Nest and Nestlé Fitness.

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