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The Future of Robots in the Home

Where do we stand, where are we headed and what potential hurdles will the industry face in the coming years?
By Andre Gwilliam
Jun 02, 2019

While the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is well under way, the impact of robotics in domestic life is still very much in its infancy. Still, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) has reported that the United States' service robot industry, covering both domestic and industrial use, was worth $5.2 billion at the end of 2017, with that figure expected to nearly double by the end of 2020.

These are promising signs, and most would assume the universal introduction of robots into the home is only as far away as the relevant technological developments dictate. There are, however, some concerns about the technology, now and in the future, that could potentially limit the expected influx. So, where do we currently stand with robotics in the home? Where are we headed? And what potential hurdles face the industry across the next few years?

The Current Offering
The potential of robotics in domestic use covers three primary areas: the running of the home, security and entertainment. We can already see prime examples of IoT influence in all three sectors, including a few items that are now very much considered everyday tools. When it comes to cleaning the home, the immediate name that springs to mind is the Roomba vacuum. Surprisingly, the Roomba has been around since 2002, albeit in a much less sophisticated form back then.

The latest model, the 980, can identify room size and obstacles, then remember the most efficient routes around the house. Its manufacturer, iRobot, now face competition from the likes of Sharp and Bosch, as the vacuum robot develops to becoming a staple in the home. Freeing up chore time for humans increases product demand across the markets, so all marketing-leading brands are taking advantage of this.

Security applications such as the Ring video doorbell, Google's Nest Cam and Buddyguard's Flare app are enabling home security to reach beyond CCTV surveillance. The Flare app, in particular, offers significant future potential, utilizing artificial intelligence to recognize faces and alert the homeowner to any suspicious activity.

Where entertainment is concerned, Amazon's Alexa leads the charge in the ever-growing home assistant market. Of course, the home assistant has a more overarching purpose than playing a few tunes or answering the occasional question, and can effectively run the show in a fully IoT-integrated home.

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