I had a client meeting in London one morning last week, and I had a few hours before my next conference call in the US. So, I took some time to visit the London Science Museum. They had a special exhibit on Robots, so I paid my 15£ to take a look I like to learn about robot technology, but this exhibit’s layout put things into a new perspective. This new perspective made me think a lot about how we are using technology, because it talked about a shift between dreaming about technology to realizing the technology through engineering. This is very similar to what we are doing.

The exhibit started out hundreds of years before I expected to see it start, featuring early automatons that were for purposes of entertainment. Usually, I thought of robots as a much more recent development. But, simple robots existed well before the 20th century, when they took the name “robot” and started to resemble what a robot should look like in my minds eye.

The exhibit featured this replica of the robot made famous in the early black and white science fiction film, “Metropolis.” The exhibit positioned this as a time where technology was dreaming. Examples of society’s dream of robot technology played out in books, film, television, and other new media. Sometimes the robots helped. Other times they caused havoc. No matter the result, they were always made a powerful impact.

Metropolis Robot
Recreation of Robot from "Metropolis"

In the 1950s, some real robots were built in Italy, the US, and the UK. While they started to do things, they reminded me of the automatons from centuries earlier. They did interesting tricks, but nothing special. At this point, there was a split. Small robots started to develop that didn’t look human. This is when we switched from dreaming to doing. The early inspiration, led by artists and dreamers, worked. It inspired tinkerers, engineers, and corporations to start making things real. 

Pre-Asimo Honda robot
Pre-Asimo Honda robot that could climb stairs


Spanish prototypes
Spanish prototypes from the 2000’s


I can’t forget Pepper, who gave me a fist bump! This robot has been sold for home use since 2015 in Japan.

As I look at the history of the robot, I can see that many of us who are looking at CX are leaving the dreaming phase, and starting to make the dream real. It might not always look pretty right now, but we shouldn’t get discouraged. We are starting to learn and achieve significant gains. Like the history of the robot, we will get to a point where the present will more than fulfill the dreams of the past.

It’s you that can make the same thing happen for customer experience. 


Scott Draeger

Scott Draeger

VP of Customer Transformation

Scott joined the industry in 1997, after earning a B.A. from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He started as a document designer using several VDP technologies, before moving to the software side of the industry. He has more than 17 years of experience in the document composition software industry as both a transactional document designer and a software vendor. He earned his EDP and M-EDP certification from Xplor and his MBA in 2007 from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

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