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Do We Need Robot Furniture?

So-called “robotic” furniture is nothing new and has even seen advancement in some markets (think <a title="Massage Chairs" href="http://www.atgstores.com/massage-chairs_1016.html" target="_blank">recliners</a> and beds), but truly space-age furniture is still a ways off – or is it?</br></br>Jessica Banks, founder and CEO of <a title="RockPaperRobot" href="http://rockpaperrobot.com/" target="_blank">RockPaperRobot</a>, abandoned her dream of becoming an astronaut (as well as her Ph.D. program at MIT) to embark upon an engineering journey that encompasses futuristic furniture design. Her mission and current creations have measurable value, but it also begs the question: Do we really <em>need</em> robotic furniture?</br></br>Let’s examine:</br></br><strong>Pros of Robotic Furniture</strong></br></br><em>1. Personalization:</em> Imagine a <a title="Sofas" href="http://www.atgstores.com/sofas_1003.html?linkloc=tn" target="_blank">sofa</a> that has the same number of inputs as the seat in a luxury car: endless configurations, plus multiple presets and default positions based on body type, mobility and mood. That sounds pretty good.</br></br><em>2. Sensor Control: </em>This is something RockPaperRobot is currently exploring that will allow furniture or fixtures to respond to external stimuli such as noise, light, movement or proximity. For example, in a recent lecture Ms. Banks showcased a ceiling light that could adjust both position and illumination based on the activity occurring below it (party, quiet dinner, etc.).</br></br><em>3. Failure Warnings:</em> No one thinks about furniture “failing” <em>per se</em>, but what if your furniture could warn you when it’s imbalanced or exposed to damaging strain? Further, what if it could self-correct for these problems? A self-balancing <a title="Dining Tables" href="http://www.atgstores.com/dining-tables_1001.html?linkloc=tn" target="_blank">table</a> could be sweet …</br></br><strong>Cons of Robotic Furniture</strong></br></br><em>1. Malfunction: </em>Electronics can break. It’s not an indictment; it’s just a fact.</br></br><em>2. Repair Costs:</em> Once it breaks it will need to be fixed and, generally speaking, complex machinery is more expensive to repair than simple machinery. There are exceptions to this rule and the hope is that Ms. Banks and others like her consider that in their designs.</br></br><em>3. Higher Price:</em> There’s no way to guess how much all this technology is going to cost us, but if history is any clue it’s probably not going to be cheap. The question, as always, is whether the added convenience is worth the added cost and only time will tell.</br></br>At first blush, it looks like the future is bright for robotic furniture, but of course we already knew that. Soon enough, enterprising engineers like Ms. Banks will find ways to improve the pros and reduce the cons in ways we can’t imagine and we’re looking forward to what’s around the corner in this exciting new field.
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