Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Robotic home delivery service

I don't think that many futurists, technologists and planners have grasped how significant the development of robotic home delivery could be, and how close such a technology is to being developed.

Curbside robotic delivery is basically the same technology as self-driving cars, which have already proven to be a viable technology. There are safety barriers to overcome, but we are a long way down the path to that being a reality.

With robotic delivery, the cost of providing home delivery take out meals is reduced significantly (much less people cost), potentially to a stage where take out becomes the more common than home cooking.

Combining robotic delivery with warehouse automation (e.g. Kiva Systems) would bring down the cost of home-delivered supermarket shopping below the cost of actually visiting a store, which would lead to significant uptake, and eventually the end of the supermarket.

Robotic collections, including those easily scheduled for hours when you're actually at home, would eliminate one of the frustrations of online shopping, leading again to greater uptake.

And, even if you're going to shops to view items, do you need to hassle of carrying bags of goods around, loading and unloading your car? Or will you elect to have to goods delivered to you? That which was previously a luxury becomes affordable with robotic delivery

Robotic delivery will become the primary way that goods enter the household.

So how will it work? An easy mechanism for the first generation would be to rely on cars, with the proven self-driving car technology. The car (or more likely a van) would contain numerous compartments accessible from the exterior of the vehicle. When the vehicle arrives at your premises it notifies you via call / SMS / tweet / etc. You would then go out to the road and type in a code into the vehicle (to ensure identity). The door of the compartment would open, and you would take your goods.

The second generation would be pavement based (probably more difficult to master than roads), but could deliver smaller goods to your front door.

Later generations could potentially deliver goods into your home, and even put them in your cupboards for you. But such feats would require very sophisticated AI, object recognition, not to mention a dexterous robot.

Free consumer VDI

How cheap does computing need to become before VDI becomes cheap enough to be free (ad supported)? Already many applications are hosted in the cloud for free (ad supported), but why not a desktop too? It is simply a matter of the hardware costs becoming dropping sufficiently below the advertising revenue.

What would be the advantage to the VDI hosting provider?
  • With some control of the desktop the hosting provider should be able to place advertising directly into the desktop
  • The hosting provider may be able to charge fees for application providers
  • Users who upgrade from a basic desktop to a better spec'd one, or taking more storage
What would be the advantage for consumers?
  • A portable customisable desktop environment
  • The ability to install legacy applications that have not been turned into a software as a service offering and access these anywhere
  • No loss of desktop with loss of hardware
  • Integration with cloud applications
  • Integrated backup solution
  • Cloud but with the traditional file system feel (and with it that little bit more control)
Operating systems that might work (needs to be free):
  • Linux with WINE to enable legacy Windows applications
  • ReactOS

Crowd-decided RPG outcomes

There is potentially an opportunity for a web/social/online service to add depth and originality to tabletop role playing games by allowing the crowd to contribute to key game decisions.

When player a game the Games Master would submit to the web site a particular scenario in the game, and would suggest several options for the outcome of that scenario. Users of the website would vote on those outcomes, and submit their own outcomes, which could also be voted on.

The GM would set the minimum votes required, or the timelimit for the decison to be made. And would provide the website users with a short after-action report.

The benefit to the gamers would be an infusion of original, unpredictable outside influence into their playing experience. The benefit to the web users would be the fun of controlling the destiny of the game and the characters, the insights to the scenarios that Games Masters are dreaming up, and the opportunity to submit (and receive votes for) original ideas.