Robots as powerful productivity tools is a well-accepted concept. Less-understood, perhaps, is the role robots can play in highly creative applications that inspire us to think differently about technology and its potential.
When robots are used outside of technical or industrial environments, however, the requirements are even more demanding than in those traditional applications. The robots must be extremely accessible, flexible, user-friendly, and easy to program. For an innovative agency in Madrid, Spain, Universal Robots met all those requirements. And what the designers created with them is stunning.
Espadaysantacruz Studio is a hybrid creative studio that develops interactive and audiovisual experiences based on its continuous research in digital technology and storytelling. The agency was chartered to create an ad campaign for the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido for its new WASO line of skincare products. These products were inspired by the holistic and natural Japanese food tradition of Washoku, which led to the ad’s underlying concept that, “All things beautiful come from nature.” Shiseido’s consumers are young and technically savvy, however, so the challenge was to combine both elements in a compelling short video.
The designers at Espadaysantacruz made a seemingly incongruous choice: to combine robots with gorgeous time-lapse photography of plants and flowers. The result is a remarkable contrast of technology and nature that highlights the smooth, precise movements of collaborative robot arms with the forms, colors, and motions found in plants.
Espadaysantacruz incorporated two UR robots for the project, using technology to make the video, which is about technology experiencing nature. A compact, flexible UR3 robot wields a camera through the video’s landscape of floating islands. In order to capture the subtle motion of plants and flowers, the robot moved slowly, smoothly, and precisely—as little as one to two meters over a 24-hour period.
The second robot, the larger UR10, appears in the video as “creator.”
The UR10 wields a simulated sensor and 3D printing tool that draws from the colors and textures it experiences in the natural world and creates an amazing new island. The robot’s movements are precise, smooth, and accurate—perfectly reflecting the delicate motions of the natural world.
Once completed, the island the robot creates acts as a metaphor for the new Shiseido WASO skincare products that use ingredients such as carrot, loquat, honey, tofu, and white jelly mushroom to maintain the appearance of youthful skin.
Vincent Chavy, UR Marketing manager for South Europe and MEA who worked with Espadaysantacruz, explains how creative applications are easy to accomplish with the UR cobots. “The robots are so easy to program that customers can do many interesting things without any training,” he says. “With the UR Academy, any small or mid-sized company can see how to use the robots ahead of time, so they don’t need to be afraid of programming.” Chavy says that the designers at Espadaysantacruz didn’t need any additional technical support from UR to complete the Shiseido project.
Nerea Goikoetxea, CEO and Creative Director at Espadaysantacruz Studio adds, “Working with robots is always a challenge, but this collaboration with Universal Robots has revealed to us the simplicity and versatility of their robotic arms... so our adventure with robots has just begun!”