i3 | April 10, 2019

CES 2019 Showcases Home Health Robotics

Bobby Baulmer

Once only an abstract technology featured in science-fiction novels and movies, robots have become a reality in homes and offer ever-expanding tangible benefits to consumers. At CES 2019, established tech companies and startups alike offered a glimpse into the next generation of home robotics. With a goal toward improving lives and granting independence to seniors and individuals with limited mobility, the display of companionship and health-focused robots seek to expand the potential for consumer robotics.

To date, the home robotics market is largely focused on assisting consumers with completing chores, namely robotic vacuums, mops, window cleaners and lawn mowers. Undoubtedly, automated cleaning robots are popular with consumers as they complete tasks most dread. Leading manufacturers including Ecovacs, iRobot, LG and Samsung have implemented dramatic improvements in cleaning performance and convenience with the ability to map your home and be activated via a smartphone app or smart speaker, leading to record shipments.

CTA expects nearly 3.4 million home robots to ship this year, representing $988 million in wholesale revenue. CTA forecasts the U.S. home robotics market will exceed $1.4 billion (wholesale) annually by 2022 when 4.5 million devices will ship. Since 2017, annual shipments of home robots have climbed 60 percent on a unit basis.

Robots Everywhere

The future of robotics was omnipresent at CES 2019 with the latest in companion, health and customer service robotics on display from exhibitors including Honda, LG, Samsung, Sony, SoftBank, Toyota and Ubtech. Specifically, several exhibitors highlighted the capabilities of companion robots that will address the challenge of managing care and limiting social isolation for the elderly and individuals with limited mobility. This development is only made possible by recent advancements in machine learning, sensors, data connectivity and other underlying technologies.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, roughly 12 million people in the U.S. require some form of home health care, a figure expected to climb as America’s population grows older. Further, a 2015 report featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly two million elderly Medicare individuals rarely or never leave their homes. Seeking to address this need, several CES exhibitors demonstrated solutions including:

  • Groove X’s Lovot seeks to provide social interaction as an emotional attachment robot and is equipped with dozens of sensors, including thermal imaging. Lovot uses machine learning to analyze the level of engagement it receives from its owner and adjusts its character accordingly.
  • Samsung’s Bot Care monitors a patient’s health with capabilities including being able to monitor medication intake and sleep patterns, check vital signs, allow for remote check-ins with health providers or family members and summon medical services should an emergency be detected.
  • Stanley Black & Decker’s Pria homecare companion robot interacts with its user via voice commands and maintains the ability to automatically dispense up to 28 doses of medication and complete video calls with medical providers and family members.
  • Torooc’s Liku is a robot intended to become a part of daily life for its human user and contains an integrated cognition system to control its behavior and emotions.

The advent of companion and health-based robots offer a small preview of the future for home robotics. Longer-term, technological advancements will improve the quality of life and health of the elderly and homebound.

Bobby Baulmer
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