FEI 2015 - Soccer Playing Robots and Life Profit

This week I am attending the Front End of Innovation conference in Boston, MA. Representing the University of Alabama and the Foresight Education and Research Network, I'm hoping to meet some new contacts in the innovation industry, connect with foresight enthusiasts, and bring what I learn back to my classroom for the students.

Soccer Playing Robots

Dennis Hong - Associate Professor and Founding Director of Ro Me La Robotics (Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory UCLA

If a robot can't play a simple game of soccer how will it do more important things....like save people's lives?

Dennis Hong's presentation of robots and what the potential of life saving abilities was both eye opening and amusing. Eye opening and amusing, because who knew that robots could play soccer? Albeit, slowly, robots are competing on the soccer field as well as the DARPA challenge courses to showcase how hard it is to build robots, but also to demonstrate our advancement in this field every day.

The first USA winners multiple years in a row for international robotic competitions, the Ro Me La robots including Thor and Charli look like they could star as fun sidekicks in a Pixar movie that showcase their ability to save the world. Hong noted that robots for outdoor and unstructured environments have a long way to go, but that by the time his grandchildren are watching 3D holographic TV, he may just see robots saving human lives. This is a far departure from the ways that science-fiction and many news reporters create fear around robots taking human jobs. Instead, robots can help humans do things that they cannot do - like save us all from nuclear radiation. This is a much more science-reality version of robotics. Soccer playing robots help robot creators learn how to make robots even more functional in life saving activities and it is very possible to see this developing as the true future of robot-human interaction.

Creating Life Profit

Dustin Garis - Founder of Life Profit

The best way to create a big impact is to innovate on the human experience.

It was difficult just picking one quote to feature form Dustin Garis' talk on innovation and brands creating life profit for customers. Reminiscent of the lesson I teach all my Introduction to Marketing students - value for value business creation is here to stay. Businesses must create value to gain value. While it may not have been the case in the past (or perhaps it was to an extent - we tend to discount the past way too much), creating value for customers is one of the best ways to gain not only their money - but also their loyalty. Brand loyalty is the name of the game especially in a marketplace that is international, Internet connected, and expanding by the milli-second.

By using human innovation Garis notes that companies can drive growth in major ways. The former head of Global Marketing and Innovation for P&G FutureWorks, Garis champions creating experiences for customers. Garis' suggestion of an amnesia epidemic is both insightful and true. How many days do you remember fully from this month? What makes something memorable? If you can't remember the day...did you really live it? In a world of hyper focused screen and mobile time, I often wonder when I see people sitting in a room looking intently at their phone screen - what would happen if they just looked up?

Citing examples by Coke, Expedia, Always and Mr. Clean Carwash, Garis' hypothesizes that humans need brands to create experiences just as much as they need products and services can drive their loyalty to new heights as well as create a memory that makes life stand out on the calendar. Garis suggested to the audience that they consider asking agencies to create three types of content pitches: 1. content the agency knows you will buy, 2. content the agency wants you to buy, and 3. content the agency thinks they'd get fired for. Many times the "fired for" content is the best of all. And isn't that what we need and want to do as humans - take risks? Life can be too vanilla when it's all the same model and the same package shots telling us to be better than humanly possible. Life is a lot better when brands help us jump aboard a plane to China, when they help us live the life we always knew we could, in fact, live.

#innovation #robots #FrontEndofInnovation

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