The Robot And The Smart Home

The home robotics future many of us have imagined is here, although adoption into the technology has been limited to date. Pricing, availability, and consumer awareness are some of the factors involved, but another overlooked facet is the current disconnect between home robots and smart home technology. While robots in the home have always to some degree been a widely anticipated endeavor, smart home has emerged as a vital complement, and vendors are beginning to see increased value in supporting integration of their products into the smart home ecosystem. This is borne out in the projection of nearly 79 million homes worldwide that will feature a robot inside the home by 2024. 

Home Care And Personal Robots

The market is comprised of two verticals: home care, which specializes in one particular function in or around the home (vacuum cleaner, lawnmower, pool cleaner); and personal robots, which are considered companion devices capable of responding to and interacting with the homeowner. Home care robots are the current pacesetters with regard to consumer adoption and smart home integration. A key reason is the gradual interweaving of smart home functionality and home care robots. For instance, wireless security cameras — a smart home device — are now being installed in robotic vacuum cleaners.

Blurring The Robotics And Smart Home Line

The main differentiator between smart home and robotics remains voice activation. Smart home products such as Google Home and the Echo line have sent adoption rates soaring past those of home robots, reinforcing the belief that a more unified integration can drive potential for increased consumption in both home care and personal robotics.

In addition to voice control, artificial intelligence is another smart home component considered integral to home robotics, particuarly on the personal/social side. Amazon and Google are believed to be strong frontrunners to lead the pack, due to AI and voice recognition being the center of their smart home assistant platforms. Echo and Google Home devices increasingly support screens and cameras alongside microphone arrays, providing the means to support facial recognition in line with voice activation — features that should become the basis for more personalized interactions between users and their devices. With both companies competing for a top spot in this market, it will be worth watching eventual consumer demand, as long as price points remain affordable. 

Articulation and mobility will be key features that will accelerate the transition from smart speaker to a social robot that can move and converse with its user, providing two-way communication and even simulated facial expressions. While many consumers are not quite ready to live with a walking, talking robot, one obvious segment in which robotic capabilities have been useful is Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). Improving the user experience to integrate voice activation with home robots can drastically improve quality of life for the end-user. Start-ups such as Intuition Robotics and Blue Frog Robotics have already developed devices that are compatible with smart home services. 

Although vendors and organizations recognize the need and are making strides, the home robotics market is likely to lag behind smart home adoption until the integration gap between these technologies narrows. Learn more inside our Smart Home Robotics Application Analysis report.