Humans and robotics team up in novel ways

Apple’s Siri routinely answers our questions, robotic vacuum cleaners are now common place in the home, and autonomous robots are a regular sight in warehouses today. So what’s next? Students from the University of Sydney’s Design Lab will give us an insight to the emerging technologies and ideas of tomorrow in the new exhibition Visually Defiant opening today.

Dr Rob Saunders, Acting Head of the University of Sydney’s Design Lab and Senior Lecturer in Design Computing said: “We are entering a second industrial revolution. This is being driven by advances in artificial intelligence and robotic technologies.

“Questions around how we interact with these increasingly intelligent machines open up a world of new possibilities for designers. Our students are urged to explore these possibilities.

“By building machines engaged in the original creative act, mark making, the graduating students have imagined a future where humans and robots collaborate in novel ways.

“The result is a collection of remarkable machines that demonstrate the ingenuity and determination of our students, which are sure to surprise, delight and hopefully intrigue and provoke,” he said.

The final year works by graduating students of a Bachelor of Design Computing and Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Arts, will go on show in the University’s Tin Sheds Gallery from Thursday 27 November until Saturday 29 November. Rob Saunders says the end of year show is an extraordinary showcase of technology and ideas that might become part of our everyday lives within the next 5-10 years.

Prototypes for human-robot interaction, new social media platforms, digital applications and technology, and 3D modelling are the general themes in this year’s exhibition. Some of the novel ideas include: robots that draw personal portraits; a dress ring that exchanges contact data through a handshake; Bete, the smart home service to help diabetics; a website that uses temporal data to show the effect of climate change on Australia’s weather; a smart insurance policy maker that amalgamates multiple insurance policies; wearable technology to monitor distance between people; and a user interface for rugby coaches that projects biometric data from technology worn by the players.

Dr Rob Saunders said: “Design Lab’s end of year show is a huge draw card for industry to find the next brightest talent that will take their business forward. The students are creating ideas and job opportunities that don’t necessarily exist today, but may well do so tomorrow. They are our future designers and entrepreneurs.”

John Allsopp, a successful software developer and authority on web trends, said: “When I had the good fortune to study Computer Science at the University of Sydney in the 1980s, most students, let alone most people, had barely seen a computer, not to mention used one. Australia had no permanent connection to the Internet.

“In the intervening quarter of a century, computers have left their niches in finance, aerospace, physics, and engineering, and permeated throughout all of industry, society and culture.

“I doubt few, if any of us, who studied computing back then, could have imagined how the large air con units, and the then brand new GUI which drove personal computers, would become phones in our pockets connected to global networks, tablet devices, wearables, and network-enabled everything.

“One can hardly begin to imagine what similar transitions will occur over the next 30 years. But this is the world these students will help bring to life - a world where almost everything is smart and internet-enabled. I envy their opportunity to remake the world yet again,” he said.

Event details What: Visually Defiant: 2014 Design Lab Graduates When: 27-29 November (official opening at 6pm on Thursday 27th) Where: Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney, Wilkinson Building, 148 City Road Camperdown. Hours: 11am-5pm

Media enquiries: Mandy Campbell, 0481 012 742 or

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