Synapse Unveils "Gerard," The Contextually-Aware Robotic Assistant That Really Understands Us

Innovation specialist Synapse Product Development today unveiled Gerard, a first-of-its-kind natural user interface. Gerard understands its environment as well as voice and physical gesture commands, giving a glimpse into a future where context-aware digital assistants move closer to the richness of human communication.

Today's voice-controlled assistants are reaching mainstream adoption in the home but are limited by a lack of the critical context that we take for granted in everyday interactions with other people. In the future, digital assistants will understand context, such as our body language, emotions, and physical surroundings.

To bring us closer to that future, Synapse engineers integrated machine vision, voice and gesture recognition, 3D mapping and autonomous robotics to give Gerard eyes, ears and mobility. The robot autonomously explores physical spaces, becoming aware of where it's been, its current location and objects in its environment. With all of these capabilities combined, Gerard understands who you are, what you're saying, and what your gestures mean in the context of your surroundings. This allows for instructions such as "Gerard, turn on that light" while pointing to the light you want to turn on.  

"Voice interface technology has come a long way in a few short years, but is still well short of resembling human interactions," said Jeff Hebert, VP of Engineering at Synapse. "Gerard uses contextual awareness to make digital interactions much more natural and efficient."

With this technology in the home, Gerard could support many new use cases. Imagine the benefit it could bring to an elderly relative, making home automation accessible without requiring mastery of a screen-based user interface. In an office environment, Gerard could control conference room technology, enabling automatic meeting minutes with attribution to the correct speakers, or intuitive gesture and voice control of a videoconferencing camera, allowing commands such as "zoom in on that whiteboard." In industrial settings, Gerard could improve safety as well as productivity. A factory worker could control heavy equipment without sharing their attention with a display or control panel or needing to remove protective gloves, while automated equipment could anticipate the movement of workers to enhance safety.

Gartner has predicted that by 2020, about 30 percent of web access will take place without the use of a screen. Synapse is at the leading-edge of developments in interaction technology, harnessing the latest in sensing, machine learning, spatial awareness and inputs from voice, gesture and haptics, to develop completely natural user interfaces that bring new richness to human/digital experiences.  

About Synapse Product Development
Synapse is a product development and consultancy firm. We work with the most creative brands in the world to drive innovation and introduce cutting-edge devices that positively impact our lives. Fueled by a desire to solve complex engineering challenges, we develop products that transform brands and accelerate advances in technology. For more information, visit www.synapse.com

Synapse is part of Cambridge Consultants, which develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. With a team of more than 700 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, energy and wireless communications.

About Cambridge Consultants
Cambridge Consultants develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology-critical issues for clients worldwide. For more than 50 years, the company has been helping its clients turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether they are launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. With a team of more than 800 staff, including engineers, scientists, mathematicians and designers, in offices in Cambridge(UK), Boston (USA) and Singapore, Cambridge Consultants offers solutions across a diverse range of industries including medical technology, industrial and consumer products, digital health, energy and wireless communications. For more information, visit: www.cambridgeconsultants.com

Cambridge Consultants is part of Altran, a global leader in engineering and R&D services which offers its clients a new way to innovate. Altran works alongside its clients on every link in the value chain of their project, from conception to industrialization. In 2015, the Altran group generated revenues of €1.945bn. With a headcount of more than 27,000 employees, Altran is present in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit: www.altran.co

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