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Personal Robots Hit The Consumer Mainstream
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed May 12, 2008
More Consumer and Education stories
According to ABI Research Principal Analyst Philip Solis, in an interview first published in IQ Online, the personal robotics market has arrived with ‘bots quickly carving a market for themselves in the consumer psyche.

According to a study, dubbed “Personal Robotics”, released by market research company ABI Research, the personal robot market will be worth $15 billion by 2015, with the component market hitting $12 billion in the same period.

IQ Online caught up with Philip Solis, principal analyst at ABI Research to get the low down on the personal bot market and find out what kind of component opportunities it is going to create for the industry.

Would you say robots are mainstream consumer items yet?
The 2007 holiday season really sealed the rise of personal robots as mainstream computer devices. The US gadget-retailer, Sharper Image, for example, has a full section for consumer robotic products under the slogan “shop for bots”. You’ve got devices ranging from the Pleo dinosaur that grows with you to lower cost products such as the WowWee Robopanda Interactive Robot. There is a wider array of products available, but also more awareness of bot products amongst consumers and that will continue to grow.

How do you think the personal robot market will split?
We’ll see a split between entertainment robots and practical robots. Within that you’ll see educational bots and, more niche, security bots. Consumers looking to spend less time and effort doing routine, mundane will look for practical bots. Many are single-function task robots such as those made by iRobot, whose self-contained Roomba vacuum cleaner is already familiar to many consumers. Others will be seeking out new levels of entertainment and even companionship.

How are robot platforms developing?
Right now there is a lot of proprietary development going on by big and small companies. Microsoft Robotics Studio has raised some interesting options. Version 1.5 of Microsoft Robotics Studio allows creation of autonomous robots running Windows CE and Windows Mobile, and also adds support for vision and speech recognition

How do you see the market for robots developing?
The market is geared to move higher and higher. By 2015 we will see an increasing use of complex manipulators in the bot market. Eventually we will see consumers spend as much on a multi-task humanoid robot as they may on a car.

As tools become more standardized and further development takes place we will see more modular robots appear.

What kind of component market growth can we expect to see from the personal robotics market?
We will see significant revenue opportunities in this arena for key enabling components such as processors, microcontrollers, sensors and servers. We are forecasting that by 2015 these four major product categories will reach a collective global revenue of $12 billion.

How do you see ARM featuring in this space?
ARM already appears in robotics currently on the market. The dollar price of ARM based technology can help developers keep the price down, whilst providing the performance they require.

How do you see the component market segmenting?
About 48% of component revenue can be attributed to task robotics, while 51% will come from the entertainment robotics segment. The remaining 1% to 2% is derived from security and educational segments. The number of major components in robots will increase, which will result in price drops.

How do you think the use of ARM technology will emerge in robotics?
The Ugobe Pleo uses two processors, we’ll see more product with dual ARM processors. We may event see three, it really depends on the complexity of the bot.

Will we see more use of sensors in robotics?
Yes, they are coming down in price and are being used more and more. They can be used to provide the robot with greater realisation of its environment, depth and distance, for example.

Will we see robots using Wi-Fi networks?
Yes, by 2010 we’ll see more robotic toys and they will be much more realistic. They will utilise Wi-Fi networks, but will use mostly microcontrollers to keep the cost down. We’ll see robots using the processing power of the PC, a bit like an external brain. The PC will be able to control the PC remotely. Wi-Fi will be used to transmit controls to the robot from the PC.

And finally will we see the ‘more than one robot home’ in the future?
Yes, and it isn’t along way away. Consumers will be eager to spend money on robots that can multi-task for chores, but will look for other specific robots for entertainment, for example. Increases shipment of components for robots will eventually lead to lower component prices. These savings will be passed on to the consumer. Inevitably we will see higher-value robots with more functionality coming onto the market at given prices, much like the development of any other technology.

Special Thanks
Robotics Trends would like to thank for IQ Online for permission to reprint the article above.  The original article can be found at http://www.arm.com/iqonline/PhilipSolis.html.


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