Robotics is booming worldwide. In 2015, spending on robotics was $71 billion and is expected to grow to over $135 million next year. In Japan, a hotel chain uses 140 robots to check in guests, bring luggage to rooms, and for maintenance and entertainment. This same hotel chain only has seven human employees.
Is there a robot in your home? Will there be one in the future? As our population ages, the global need for more technology assistance sharpens. These three categories of robotic assistants offer great benefits:
1. Stationary Robots
These types of robots are relatively simple and usually sit on a tabletop and have no moving parts. They usually respond by voice commands (think Apple Homepod, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa) and do things like play music, adjust lights, raise blinds, open doors, change the thermostat, etc. In addition, they can now add items to a shopping list, remind someone to take medication at a certain time, call for a ride, etc.
2. Telepresence Robots
These types of robots display a person’s face while communicating from the next room or the opposite side of the world. It is similar to video conferencing and provides two-way communication during the conversation and adds in the ability for the robot to “nod” up and down, pan the camera to see the environment, and follow the user from room to room. Great examples are Ohmni, Double, and Kubi.
3. Interactive Robots
These types of robots offer the greatest promise of providing assistance to those that live alone. PARO is a companion robot with artificial intelligence, and it can respond to touch and sound. It comes as a furry baby seal and works like a therapy pet. It is very social. ElliQ is specifically for aging adults. It sits on a table top but uses machine learning to understand more about its owner and its owner’s needs. Mabu is a personal healthcare companion and monitors health and sends information to the user’s physician. Zenbo is a mobile robot that combines telepresence with a smart-home hub. Pepper stands four-feet tall with arms and articulating fingers and moves on a wheeled base. It uses IBM Watson AI to help individuals in the healthcare industry.
As robots become more affordable, easy to use, and part of our lives, we’ll all begin to see how they can help and enhance our living environments, help us feel better about a family member who lives alone, or just enjoy our lives more.
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