Back in December, I was home for the holiday season. It was wonderful to sleep in my old bed, see family, reconnect with friends, and enjoy some time for reflection. Not to mention I am a big fan of Christmas carols and anything flavored with peppermint. All this holiday cheer and merriment was brilliant, but one moment from my week at home stands out in particular. My two cousins, my sister, and her boyfriend all decided to go out one night. While enjoying a cold pitcher and a game of bingo, we noticed that the man at the table next to us was wearing Google Glass. We were all naturally quite curious, having heard our fair share of rumors and stories about this new form of augmented reality. The man was contracted by Google’s developers to travel with Glass and let people he encounters try it on for a few minutes. The five of us each then got the chance to play around with Google’s latest creation. I was impressed. But with my favorable opinion also brought about a certain sense of confusion and critical concern; where’s the personality? Where’s the personalization? And where’s my “Her” hiding? Scarlett Johansson may not have been talking to me while I was trying out Glass, but I wouldn’t have minded considering most find it easier to connect with the warmth of another human than with a machine.   TEDxMileHigh (and certainly TED) is particularly interested in robotics and new forms of reality. Former TEDxMileHigh speaker Easton LaChappelle created a robotic prosthetic arm and spoke about it at our June 2013 event at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Easton’s use of 3D printing and modeling techniques allowed him to create, build, and print a prosthetic arm for around $450. A similar advanced prosthetic arm on the market would cost $80,000. Easton’s arm has the same level of strength, stamina, and functionality of any human arm, but at a price point that is incredibly affordable. But Google Glass and new forms of prosthetics target very specific groups of people. What about robotics that serve  a wider audience?   It’s no surprise to me that people are curious about Google Glass, robotic arms, and other forms of virtual reality and robotics. And we’re investing a lot of time, money, and energy on making these advancements available to the public quickly and efficiently. Take vacuuming, for example. It’s a household chore that everybody has to do, but nobody really wants to (unless you do, in which case, I’d love to hire you). Dyson is planning on spending $8 million on a robotics research lab in order to make robot vacuums more accessible to the masses. In their press release, founder James Dyson is quoted saying that his “generation believed the world would be overrun by robots by the year 2014. We now have the mechanical and electronic capabilities, but robots still lack understanding — seeing and thinking in the way we do. Mastering this will make our lives easier and lead to previously unthinkable technologies.” In other words, the robots are here, but we need to fine tune them to make them more like us. More like humans. Humanoid robots. Robots that are like Easton’s robotic arm or Google Glass: able to fully interact with the human body.       What would this “humanoid robot” look like? I believe it will have the best qualities of robots and humans. It will be able to perform necessary tasks and projects, but will be able to interact with humans in such a way that lasting connections can be made. Developers in England are already creating a robot that can sing, act, and dance. They are hoping to continue researching and create a robot that will also be able to jump and skip. The most exciting part? These robots can remember past interactions, conversations, patterns, and trends, and can recognize human emotions. They have been programmed to not take over the world, so there’s no need to worry about a 1970’s sci-fi movie style takeover by robots anytime soon. Technologies like Google Glass can become even more relevant in our lives if the same level of personalization and human-like qualities can be implemented into its user experience.     It’s easy to say that robots and other forms of technology make our lives easier. From household appliances to cell phones equipped with voice command, to security measures found in airports and other public places, robots and virtual reality are everywhere and maximize efficient systems and other protocols. With this ease and comfort, though, we can lose human contact and connection. We sit behind screens and keyboards and touch pads rather than across tables and counters. It’s hard to pick up on eye contact and body language when the body you are trying to communicate with is not next to you. We need to find a better way to integrate them into our world, so we don’t have to sacrifice either their technical advancements or our cognitive capabilities to develop meaningful relationships. Google, Dyson, and other organizations are working to do that for us.   Of course, there is a lot of work left to be done, but that is where Easton LaChappelle, Google, and other individuals and companies enter the equation; innovative minds are creating new solutions that combine robotics and humans, but more can be done. What do you think? What are the next steps in integrating robots into a world of humans? When will robots essentially be the same as humans? Do we even want that to happen? These questions and more are crucial when considering the impact that these new technologies have on us. So, what do you think?