The Future of Robotics

human radiography scan

The ambitious headline was the theme of a recent seminar held at Stanford University, where industry and researchers gathered to discuss the future of robotics.

A number of important and interesting questions were raised, with many different opinions on the future of robotics and the direction development will go in. However, one thing that everybody could agree upon is that robots will play an important part of our future.

Three speakers from international industry and research institution presented leading research and different parts of the industry.

Will robots take over our jobs?

This question seemed to reoccur, and the short answer is – yes! Robot technology is developing in an exponential pace, meaning that functionality improves all the time while the price is steadily decreasing, and thereby making robots more available. Therefore, robots will take over different functions that we used to do ourselves and the speakers at the event expect that we very soon will face robots in our everyday life when we go to the supermarket or do other everyday activities.

This can seem frightening to many people, but according to Roy Kornbluh from SRI International, the robots will only take over the jobs with the characteristics of the three “D”s –  Dirty, Dangerous, or Dull. This will free up labor for other jobs, in which humans have a cognitive advantage, such as jobs that involve creativity or have dynamic environments.

According to the panel, robots still have a long way before they can act in dynamic environments or they will be able to be social towards each other.

Robots you can wear

Another speaker of the night was Eimei Onaga, coming all the way from Muscle Robotics in Japan. According to him, we will see a growth in wearable robotic technics, meaning that we will have robots that can enhance physical capabilities. This is a technology that stems from military research, and now the research is so far in the process that the technology even can be built into a thin layer of underwear.

The target group of this kind of robotics is the aging population and people with muscular disease. Thereby, they will be able to do many more things than without the robotic wearables and thus be less dependent on help from others.

Especially in Japan, this will serve a great advantage, as Japan has one of the most rapidly aging populations in the world.

The next step for robotics

Other topics raised at the event included research on avatars. An avatar refers to a robot that is controlled by a human in another location than the robot. This technology will help us solve tasks that we could not do before, e.g. deep water diving or enabling people to be social without being actually present at a certain location – thereby saving the time spend on transportation.

Coca Cola has already started using this in their marketing, which can be seen in this video.

The further development of robotics will be exiting to follow, to discover what use can be made of the technology when robots will become increasingly autonomous. However, no matter what opinion one has of robots, it seems that they are here to stay.

And speaking of robotics, did you know that the Danish island of Funen has a RoboCluster – hosted at the University of Southern Denmark? The University has seen several robotic company spin offs, the most prominent one being Universal Robots. The company, poised to double their growth each year from 2014-2017 (and which so far have exceeded those goals) just launched the world’s most flexible, lightweight table-top robot to work alongside humans at the Automate show in Chicago this week.

Danish Minister brings University Chancellors to the Valley

In late June, Innovation Center Denmark will host the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, when she brings chancellors of the Danish universities on a study trip to Silicon Valley. The objective of this trip is to gather inspiration for how to advance the conditions for entrepreneurship at Danish universities.

Unique constellation
As a part of the Minister’s efforts to enhance the entrepreneurial mindset among the younger generations, she has invited the chancellors of the Danish universities to go with her on a study trip to Silicon Valley to see how some of the world’s best universities facilitate entrepreneurship. The trip entails visits to both University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University, currently ranking #2 and #3 in the world. By gathering the chancellors and bringing them to the innovation hotspot of  Silicon Valley, the minister wishes to provide them with new insights to how we can make Danish students more entrepreneurial and thereby ensure continued growth and welfare in Denmark.

Learning from the best
Stanford University is in the absolute elite when it comes to fostering an entrepreneurial university culture where entrepreneurship is an integrated part of most programs and courses, and the results speak for themselves; the university is world-leading in commercializing knowledge through the tech-trans office and their student entrepreneurship organizations are wildly popular. As a result a long list of successful start-ups have grown out of Stanford – Google being the obvious example. It is this kind of entrepreneurial spirit the minister wishes to advance at the Danish universities.

Tailor-made program
At Innovation Center Denmark, we are putting together a tailor-made program that will give the group the best opportunities to understanding the Silicon Valley ecosystem, how it works and what makes it successful. In addition to the visits at Stanford and Berkeley, the four-day program will include visits to Google and IDEO; two successful, innovative companies grown out of Stanford, but also visits to venture capital firms and successful start-ups such as YouNoodle based in San Francisco.

You can meet the Minister and the Danish chancellors!
Monday June 27th at 6 PM we are hosting a reception at the center and you are all invited!

For questions please contact Lars Beer Nielsen, Research and Development Attaché at Innovation Center Denmark, Silicon Valley.

Stanford Researcher Appointed Honorary Doctor at Aalborg University

We are happy to announce that our good friend Renate Fruchter, Director of the Problem Based Learning Lab at Stanford University has been appointed Honorary Doctor at Aalborg University. This nomination is a consolidation of a long and successful collaboration between Renate’s Center and Danish universities.

Danish Participation in Global Teamwork Project
Right now three Danish students from Aalborg University and The Technical University of Denmark are participating in this year’s Global Teamwork Project, an interdisciplinary building project between the fields of architecture, engineering and building, orchestrated by Renate’s lab at Stanford. The project gathers students from all over the world to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams and across up to 10 timezones on solving current building problems for real clients. So far the reactions from the Danish students have been very positive; in particular they highlighted the value of using new web-based technologies in the teamwork and the smooth integration of business aspects in the process.

Close Collaboration
The Stanford Problem Based Learning Lab was founded by Renate Fruchter in 1993 and supports collaborative, cross-disciplinary, geographically distributed teamwork and learning.

Within the field of problem based learning Denmark plays an important role as well. Aalborg University has 35 years’ experiences in educating students through the use of problem based learning strategies and the collaboration between the two centers goes way back; a funny fact is that the first study trip of  the PBL lab at Stanford University was an inspirational visit to Aalborg University.

Almost 20 years have passed but once again Renate Fruchter will visit Aalborg University. This time is for the official appointment of her honorary professorate on April 7th. The goal is that this nomination will lead to even more exciting research projects between Denmark and California. The new partners have ambitious goals and they already managed to secure funding from our home institution DASTI to collaborate on a project on teaching problem based learning to a social media generation. This project is kicked off in May at Stanford.

Most memorable week ever – in Silicon Valley

“What’s the next big thing?” That is one of the questions that haunts young entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other people from all over the world visiting Stanford University Entrepreneurship Week (further e-week).

It will be difficult to park the car or to find a seat in the auditorium if you come late, but it will be fairly easy to find someone to talk to about your new venture or an idea you are working on in order to be the next “Google”.

People you meet here will most likely be very friendly and inquisitive (in a positive way). They will enjoy talking to you about your business as well share their personal experiences from failing and starting their own ventures.

My name is Kristina Sedereviciute and I am finishing my master degree from Aarhus School of Business this year. I had a chance to attend this year’s Stanford e-week in team with four other bright students from Denmark.

A trip to Stanford was a prize I earned while winning a Silicon Valley Factor competition initiated by Innovation Center Denmark in 2009. The first competition of its kind was oriented to students from Stanford and Danish Universities.

Winning the challenge on SV Factor
The key idea of the SV Factor competition was to get familiar with Silicon Valley start-ups, analyze them and construct a portfolio of the best five start-ups (“the next big things”). Contestants were provided with a list of sixty companies from which they could form their “tops”. The trick, however, was that during the competition the initial portfolio could only be adjusted once. Moreover, only two out of five companies could have been changed. As a consequence, one had to make a good start in order to have a chance to go to the top.

The next big things/industries
The companies I had in my portfolio and that brought a great add-on in winning the SV Factor competition this year where start-ups such as: Dropbox, Foursquare, Scoopler, Heyzap and Playdom. I diversified my portfolio upon the “next big industries”, which I believed it was social gaming, real-time search and mobile social networking. My diversification proved being right, however, a thorough research and an individual product testing assisted me most in making final decisions regarding the portfolio.

Most memorable week ever!
Participation in both the SV Factor and Stanford e-week rewarded me with some unforgettable experience.

This year’s e-week program has introduced some rich and exiting sessions regarding entrepreneurship. I had a chance to attend panel discussions with Robert Scoble, MC Hammer, Loic Le Meur (founder of Twitter desktop client Seesmic and Leweb conference) , as well as to participate in more active events such as start-up job fair and idea pitching workshop with Theresa Lina Stevens (founder of Lina Group, Inc.).

It was also exiting to hear Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) sharing his story as well as get introduced to new ideas within cloud computing industry by Waren Packard (managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson) and Andrew Fieldman (CEO of Seamicro).

Company visits from Facebook to IDEO

In addition to e-week program we have also met the following companies: Facebook, Plug and Play tech center, IDEO, Intuit, Better Place, Younoodle, Soonr, Innovation center Denmark and Twitter.

It is impossible to judge which company is better than the other. All of them have unique cultures that are reflected in the way they work, arrange surroundings and present themselves in general.

For me personally every visit was exiting and rewarding. Even though I am keen on social media, I really enjoyed discussing the electric vehicle situation around the world while visiting Better Place, Inc. It was interesting to hear their predictions regarding electricity consumption in Denmark during the „boom“ of electric car industry. It was exiting to visit Facebook and capture Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook) having a meeting with his colleagues or walk around Plug and Play tech center offices, where many great start-ups are situated and where phrase: „we can easily get five million dollars on that deal“ is very common around the corridors.

(Picture from the left: Mie Femø Nielsen, Kristina Sedereviciute, Marie Roloff Clausen, the winners of Global innovation tournament in Denmark: Bjarke Christensen, Anna Holst, Martin Lyng-Petersen)

Iværksætteri fra et finsk persektiv

mickos-vesterbacka

2. Runde af Europæiske foredragsholdere på Stanford University løb af stablen i mandags, denne gang med fokus på Finske iværksættere og deres erfaring med virksomhedsopstart i Silicon Valley. Der blev lagt meget vægt på de kulturelle forskelle finnere og amerikanere imellem og én ting som man som dansker blev klar over er, at finnere rent mentalt ikke er  så langt væk fra den danske mentalitet. Continue reading “Iværksætteri fra et finsk persektiv”

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