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Thursday, January 12, 2012

CES 2012 Consumer Robotics Disaster

The last 10 years consumer robotics has often been praised by academics, government officials and industry representatives as the new super growth industry. Billions of dollars, euros and yen have been invested in R&D to develop new robotic products and systems that can make life easier, safer, more convenient, viable and greener for consumers especially for the elderly.
The International CES, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow, draws more than 140,000 attendees, some 30.000 from abroad. Despite the absence of some market leaders CES is still the most important arena for trend spotting and innovation hunting on the U.S. consumer electronics market worth US$ 190 billion in 2011.
CES 2012 Robotics 
At the CES TechZones new technology markets are grouped together and feature up-and-coming products, services and companies. One of these new technologies is robotics. According to CES 2012 "robotics is taking off! More and more, we're seeing robots playing a role in our daily lives. Robots are finding their way into our homes, our offices, under our seas, in our hospitals, and soon they may even be caring for our parents.  The CES Robotics TechZone promise is to "feature a wide range of robotics and intelligent systems applications which are now commercially available." 
Sounds interesting and makes CES 2012 a place to inspect the status and viability of the emerging consumer robotics industry. 
While consumer electronics companies compete in high-tech and high touch, consumer robotics is lost in lack of innovations, insights and inspiration. CES 2012 is a complete consumer robotics disaster represented by few companies presenting retro-relaunched robotic toys, mopping and sweeping machines, desperate teen superstar promoted non-sense musicbots and vintage robotics visions.   
From an early adopters point of view CES 2012 is a boring event demonstrating the strategic weakness of the consumer robotics industry.    
Robotic research funders, private investors and robotic promotors should be worried about the poor commercial outcome of the world's leading research and development institutes, lack of transfer of scientific knowledge into disruptive innovations,  lack of inventors and creative entrepreneurs that can create great value propositions and exciting robotic solutions for global consumers.
Meanwhile consumers will spend and have much more fun with tablets, 3D, 4G, VR, AR, body hacking, gesture tech etc.

3 comments:

Alfonso E.M. said...

The only practical and smart home robot I know is Qbo, from The Corpora. Its shared brain in the cloud is a really clever idea.

Infonaut said...

thanks for your comment. The robot apps/cloud idea is promoted by some companies such as Willow Garage. http://www.robotsappstore.com/,
MyRobots, a subsidiary of RobotShop, and EU-funded Roboearth.
Hobby robots developers of LEGO Mindstorm, Sony Aibo, WoWWee hade similar ideas long before apps became hot. The challenge is to develop innovative apps that can increase the value of current and future mobile robots. The appstore business model can succeed if robot owners will be attracted by value propositions.
We'll see what's hot in 2013. Telepresence, gameification, health coaching and body hacking are some guesses from early adopters.

Unknown said...

I agree that the showing at CES was poor this year. I even did some Google searching to make sure that I didn't miss anything. Mostly robot vacuums, two toys, and a balancing telepresence platform for an iPhone. Last year had more interesting entries, although the one I was most interested in, the Sphero, ended up being kind of "gee whiz".
http://www.robotvacuumcleaner.org/2011/12/the-orbotix-sphero-very-cool-robot-waiting-for-your-killer-app/
As Infonaut mentioned, it does seem like a lot of consumer tech is focused on "apps". Hopefully things will be better next year.