Lynn Stanley headshot

From the Editor

lynn stanley

the future


he smartphone market in the U.S. is one of the largest in the world, with more than 290 million users, according to Statista. But the idea was first introduced decades earlier on the television series “Star Trek.” Captain Kirk and the ship’s complement were each equipped with a hand-held communications device. Kirk and Mr. Spock also used a device that could instantly translate the different languages of alien life forms. Today, we have products like Sourcenext’s Pocketalk and Skype’s new voice translation service.

Who can forget the iconic film “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” where we saw the holographic image of Princess Leia delivering a plea for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Brigham Young University researchers created a free-floating 3D hologram that employs a tiny particle suspended in laser light to create high-resolution, color images that can be viewed without a dedicated augmented reality (AR) headset. Bionic limbs, digital billboards, artificial intelligence, space stations and hoverboards are products that can also trace their roots to the rich imaginations of the individuals who helped create movies like “Blade Runner,” “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Back to the Future.”

For science fiction and fantasy buffs, it is no surprise that throughout cinematic history, robots have played a primary role. Since the 1930s, robots portray both good and evil traits. In 1984, audiences were introduced to a cyborg assassin in the movie “The Terminator.” In “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” viewers instantly connected with trustworthy and loyal BB-8. In “The Rise of Skywalker,” we saw D-0 humanized as a badly treated droid who built a bond of friendship with BB-8 and the human members of the Resistance.

In this month’s issue of FFJournal, you’ll meet Zac Bogart, the president of Carpinteria, California-based Productive Robotics Inc. Bogart got his start in the film industry and worked behind the scenes on the first Star Wars film and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

He founded ZBE Inc. in 1980 to develop special-effects camera and motion control systems. By 2010, Bogart began designing and building a new generation of collaborative robots for manufacturing and machining environments. He saw a big disconnect between the cobots being introduced by other manufacturers and the ease of use that was promised to job shops and contract manufacturers.

“I wanted to do something completely different,” he says. Experience, knowledge and imagination led him to design and market the 7-axis, augmented intelligent OB7 cobot. Equipped with seven joints like a human arm, the OB7 requires no software or programming. Instead, Productive Robotics does the heavy lifting for its customers by analyzing the minutiae of each task and using its proprietary software to program the cobot accordingly. Once installed on the production floor, an operator simply has to show the cobot what to do and its “teach by touch” capability allows it to learn a job in a matter of minutes.”

For companies like ABACORP CNC Machined Parts and Lenkbar LLC, a medical device manufacturer, the OB7 is exceeding expectations with its ability to take over mundane tasks, boost throughput and improve accuracy.

Author Ray Bradbury said, “I define science fiction as the art of the possible.” Dr. Robert Goddard, considered the father of modern rocket propulsion, took that idea a step further when he said, “It is difficult to say what is possible; for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”