x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 13 December 2017

Robotics stealing show at gadgets-galore Gitex in Dubai

Whether it’s making an egg sandwich, interactive learning with the kids or making sure the elderly don’t miss their doctor appointments, there’s a robot for the task

The fully autonomous electric Mercedes FO15 is expected to be in production by 2023. Pawan Singh / The National
The fully autonomous electric Mercedes FO15 is expected to be in production by 2023. Pawan Singh / The National

Gadgets, innovations and technology of varying degrees of usefulness fill the halls of Dubai World Trade Centre at Gitex Technology Week 2017.

Developments in robotics form a large part of the new innovations as this field is now in a position to revolutionise the way we live.

Just how useful the mechanical arms of the Yaskawa RoboChef or the RoboShaker are to help make an egg sandwich or to mix a cocktail remains to be seen but other developments on show offered genuine innovation.

The South Korean Dot Incorporation braille watch allows blind users to access information from the wearable device linked to a mobile phone. Tiny nodules rise and fall on the watch face to offer information after an alert from a small vibration.

The Planet Gemini PDA was another device impressing at the Etisalat stand. It may look like a normal pocket mobile device, with all the usual functions, but a pop-out fully integrated keyboard allows users to transform their phone into a mini desktop computer.

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Exhibition visitors could try out a Samsung Gear Gyro virtual reality simulator, or lie horizontal on an amplified reality sky-bike wearing a VR headset to try flying simulator games.

At the Etisalat stand, visitors could talk to Sophia, an android that responds to any questions asked of her.

And the latest Tesla cars with 5G connectivity sat alongside future technology to be used at Dubai airport to improve passenger flow through passport control. A fully autonomous electric Mercedes FO15 was also displayed, a vehicle that will likely be in production by 2023.

Visitors talk to Sophia, a social robot on display at the Etisalat stand at Gitex. Pawan Singh / The National
Visitors talk to Sophia, a social robot on display at the Etisalat stand at Gitex. Pawan Singh / The National

Less impressive but more fun were the digital retail technologies, such as the fitting room mirrors that take photos as you try on new clothes, replaying them on a big screen to see how you really look from behind in that fresh new outfit.

Elsewhere, Dubai Civil Defence was championing a new drone with thermal sensors that could be used to pour foam on a high-rise fire and pinpoint people trapped inside.

“Whenever a fire breaks out in any spot, the fire sensors installed in buildings will send a signal to Dubai Civil Defence operations room and an officer will deploy the drone to the fire site,” said Col Ali Al Mutawa, assistant general director for smart services at DCD.

The drone, called dro fire, will also stream live footage back to the operations room and tests will be conducted on its viability in 2020, with a decision on its use thereafter.

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Artificial intelligence for home use is also a key feature of the 2017 Gitex, with “Buddy” the companion robot performing another eye-catching display.

Created by Blue Frog Robotics, Buddy promises to entertain the kids by providing interactive games and learning while also offering home security via patrol and intruder detection.

It also has the ability to look after elders by monitoring them with its in-built fall detector, and it also offers medication reminders.

It can even check on a sleeping baby through its in-built monitor and connect to other home devices like the thermostat, motorised curtain and door locks and TV, all of which can be switched on or off.

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The National's top five gadgets:

1 Mercedes FO15 fully autonomous electric car

2 Roads and Transport Authority autonomous air taxi

3 Buddy companion robot

4 Dot incorporation braille smartwatch

5 ZeroTech pocket selfie drone