Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Retail robotics

One surprising thing at CES was the Orchard Supply robotic store assistant, OSHBot. It’s a mobile device that can help you find hardware when you can’t find a hardware associate. Lowes Innovation Labs invented it and has deployed it the Orchard Supply store in San Jose – and they brought some to CES. 

The device has voice recognition (in multiple languages) and a touch screen for selecting parts/SKUs. It has a rear screen/kiosk that will show you videos or adverts as you’re following it to the aisle of interest. They create an internal "map" of the store so that they can autonomously navigate, using collision avoidance technology to avoid running into customers and carts, etc. They’re working on object recognition – so you can show it a broken part and it will help identify it and its replacement in the store.

Because of all the noise at CES, you really couldn’t talk to them and because they weren’t in a store, they really couldn’t help find anything. But I could definitely see the potential. Here’s a video demo that shows one in action:

I’m going to try to get connected with the Innovation Labs to see if we can learn from each other.

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