The Importance of Design Thinking in Robotics


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“Oh!,” she said, “I’m sorry. I am so bad at mechanical things.” No, she had it backward. It is the mechanical thing that should be apologising, perhaps saying, “I’m sorry. I am so bad with people.”
– Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things


An industrial robot is a machine so sophisticated and specialised, that no one would be surprised if you were to tell them they needed training before they could use it. In fact, one might even expect a robot to be somewhat complicated to operate. Yet the fact remains that a product that induces awe in the user, without being easy to learn to use, is poor in design.

 

The Need for Good Design

How many apps do we download on our phones, and use seamlessly without having to consciously figure out any instructions? How many jars, lamps, pens, and chairs do we use without having to think about them at all? A lot of these things are easy to use because they meet subconscious expectations. There are a thousand things we take for granted when we use something, drawing from habit and common sense – and this is why we do not have to attend classes to be able to use every new item we see in the market.


One of the jobs of the designer is to notice these little things and take advantage of them so that people can use products naturally and smoothly. Good design is like the air we breathe; if the consumer is thinking about it, that usually means it is in short supply.

 

What is Good Design

It is surprising how little things can make a huge difference when it comes to thoughtful design. Good design tries to reduce complexity and achieve balance, not only for the user, but at every stage in the process of making something. In hindsight, it seems like little more than common sense, and yet it has great power. There is so much that good design can do, just by thinking ahead and figuring out the best way to do something. It can make things easier to repair and service, or harder to damage by accident, or safer to use, or all of these. It can make them go easier on the environment than they would have if they had been made thoughtlessly. And most importantly of all, it can make things do their actual job in better and better ways.

 

Good Design In Robotics

We expect most items that we use to be easy to learn and operate. Programming a robot, on the other hand, has traditionally been a task assumed to be difficult, if not impossible, without expertise. Here, the positive difference that good design can make is to make a hitherto forbidden process both accessible and enjoyable.


At Systemantics, the effort is to seek out opportunities where design can improve user experience, safety, cost and performance.


Take the example of user experience. Most of us are not programmers, but all of us have engaged with some programming, assisted by tools. Tools for teaching a robot normally require specialized knowledge. Systemantics approach, instead, is to use an Android tab with an App to teach the robot. Anyone familiar with a smartphone is easily able to figure out how to use the robot with the simple graphical interface that the App provides. No need for complex programming languages! The key to making this happen — just like every time people make the unexpected happen — lies in thoughtful design.

 

In Conclusion

At Systemantics, we indigenously design and manufacture industrial robotic arms that will enable widespread adoption of flexible automation. Our flagship products ASYSTR 600 and ASYSTR 400 are innovatively designed, industry 4.0 ready and are available at highly competitive price points. We are constantly driving to make robots that bring great value to the shop floor with our innovations, technology and support.

 

You can reach us at sales@systemantics.com or call us at +91 9880056714 to understand our products or on industrial robotics.



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