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June 12, 2019

Royal College of Art Designers Imagine Future Human-Robot Collaboration in the Workplace

Royal College of ArtRCA Master of Research (MRes) Design Pathway students recently showcased two prototypes at the Barbican, London, as part of an exhibition exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything. 

HEXIS Touch is a robotic glove that enables the wearer to feel the movements, dexterity and pressures of a classically trained pianist – and Pando is a robotic plant for your desk that grows new leaves and blossoms as you learn new skills, encouraging long life learning in the workplace.

Much of the current conversation and debate around future technologies and automation at work focuses on robots replacing human jobs – these prototypes however, are part of a wider project considering how the next generation of automation in the workplace can be designed to actually benefit workers.

Dr Laura Ferrarello, MRes RCA Design Pathway Leader, explains, “The prototypes demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in solving future problems and challenges in the work place. As these projects show, there is great potential in the space where tradition intersects with innovation – with surprising, creative solutions that challenge the way we think about interacting with each other and technology.” Dr Ferrarello continues, “What’s unique about the RCA – and MRes in particular – is this bridging of the arts and humanities with science and technology, which can be seen in this project.”

From supporting physical or cognitive skills, to making the most of neurodiversity and a range of physical abilities, the project addresses how the next generation of automation can support people in the workplace to collaborate, learn, develop knowledge and pursue their ambitions. Dr Sina Sareh, Academic Leader, Robotics comments, “These designs are a great example of the RCA’s growing expertise and research in various aspects of human-robot interaction.” 

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Content added on 12th June 2019. 

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