Consumer Robotics 

Tony Crabtree, Nick Maynard, JUNIPIER research  

Topics: Robotics, Forecast, Education, Entertainment, Autonomous Systems   

Transcript Excerpt

Tony Crabtree is interviewing Nick Maynard about the future of consumer robotics and autonomous systems. Nick has worked on a report that deals with the current state and forecasting the future of consumer robotics. They divided the report into six different sections which are entertainment, task, education, healthcare, social and transport.  

The first key takeaway from the report that Nick points out is that the industry is in constant flux. Many companies start successful but later fail because these devices are often one-time purchases. Consumers buy one device and never go back for repeat purchases because they do not need to. The second takeaway from the report is the growing impact STEM education has on the use of these robots. More people than ever know how to code and being able to code special tasks for these devices is a big reason people purchase them.  

When looking at the forecast the largest industry for robotics is the domestic aid section. Products in this section include devices like the Roomba or a self-mowing lawnmower. These devices are growing because they cut down on time sinks. Time sinks are described as tasks that do not require a lot of skill but take a long time. Mowing the grass is not hard but it may take a person a long time due to the size of a lawn, but it can easily be done by autonomous systems. Roombas are useful because a user no longer needs to vacuum their living space.  In 2024 these devices are expected to make up 63% of the devices sold in an industry with an expected 73 million devices. 

The second hottest segment of the market is the entertainment industry.  This space is mostly dominated by drones and according to the forecast will continue to be dominated by them. According to Nick, drones are reaching maturity as they are coming with a standard set of features. Unlike most consumer robotics the customer knows exactly what they are getting when purchasing a drone.   

The next section of the interview focuses on the current forerunners of the industry and who is forecasted to do well. DGI is a drone manufacturer that has built a good reputation with a loyal customer base. iRobot started by creating the Roomba but has since grown to create other devices such as a lawn-mower or self-mopping system.  Both of these companies are also predicted to do well in five years.  

There are also challenges facing the industry. We can see this with the company Sphero which created a robot based on BB8 from Star Wars the Force Awakens. While this product was successful it was just a one-off and the company has not seen the same success since. They have since pivoted to focusing on educational products and have found more success in that field. Another issue facing the industry is products like Alexa and Google Home. Consumers see these devices as competitors to consumer robotics and manufacturers need a way to compete with these smart assistants.    

The final section of the consumer robotics interview is Nick’s recommendations for the industry. The first recommendation is to incorporate voice assistants into their products. Smart assistants are very popular and having your product inoperant them on top of other features will help justify the price to consumers. Nick’s second recommendation is to add coding tools. Coding is becoming more popular and will remain popular for years to come. Being able to code a user’s device will be important for their success. This interview then concludes. 

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