One would have expected to see flying cars and teleportation in 2022. Let’s be honest, one of the most popular dreams as a child was having our own personal assistant robots who could do our tedious homework for us or get pending chores done. And while we can’t see any automobiles soaring in the sky (as of yet), it is safe to say that technology has made huge advancements within the previous decade. Smart home automation systems and home robotics are one of the most prominent examples of us living in the future we previously contemplated.
And the best part is that smart home devices and robotics are no longer exclusive and reserved for high-end luxury homes. In fact, the United States of America is expected to have 63 million connected homes by the end of 2022, while the worldwide connected home market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 25% until 2025. All in all, smart home integration is here to stay, and we don’t think we’ll ever see a future without it. Some of the most popular smart home devices and technologies include smart TVs, smart lighting systems, smart thermostats, smart locks, cameras and security systems and even smart pet care.
Integrating smart devices and products into your home allows for a definite increase in peace of mind and convenience. For example, smart security systems help homeowners remotely monitor their homes while away on vacation — an incomparable advantage.
We’ve established that smart home devices have made a significant impact on the way we live our lives. However, have we considered how robots will be able to further improve our quality of life? Will home robotics become a staple in every home as smart home devices have?
Will robots find a place in smart device-dominated households?
We can safely anticipate that domestic, social and service robots will play an essential role in the evolving smart home ecosystem. However, how will these robotics differ from the current smart devices that dominate our homes?
For starters, let’s dismiss one of the basic preconceptions and expectations regarding these machines. When you think ‘robot’, many immediately envision the human-like machine from one of Will Smith’s movies: I, Robot. On the contrary, Home robots are a work in progress, and the technology industry has only just started to tap into the role of robots in the smart home. Consequently, home robotics are steadily adopting many of the smart home device functionalities and features such as voice and facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence.
We can see some examples of such home robotics out in the market already, for example Maytronics’ service robot Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. If you’re a pool owner, you must be familiar with how much of a hassle cleaning your pool for the summer is. This service robot acts as a quick pool cleaner with advanced capabilities. Using artificial intelligence, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus quickly learns the layout of your pool and the locations of any obstacles, which helps to perform its tasks more efficiently.
Similarly, the Roomba by IRobot has been around since 2002 but has improved a lot in the past 16 years. The latest model does more than just suck up dirt. It can now be controlled via Wifi and remember dirty places that need extra attention. In case of low battery, Roomba plugs itself back into its charging station and goes back to where it left after the battery has been recharged. Super cool!
The future of smart home technology: a mix of robots and smart home devices
The separation between home robotics (home care robots and personal/social robots) and smart home functionality has begun to blur. We can see traditional smart home devices, for example, a smart wireless security camera embedded in robot vacuum cleaners. Integrating these mobile machines with other conventional smart home technologies will allow the industry to take home automation to a whole new level.
What home robotics really bring to the picture is autonomous movement and mobility. The necessary functionalities and capabilities already exist within smart devices such as cameras, thermostats, motion detectors, contact/gas sensors and so on. All of these devices are usually connected to a singular platform on our smartphones, smart speakers or even smart displays to help users activate them.
Now imagine these activators in home robotics. Adding a smart security camera and motion detecter into an artificially intelligent home care robot will definitely upgrade your existing smart security system. This will undoubtedly add another dimension to our smart home system. Being able to control movement around your house — closing doors, flicking a light switch, or cleaning up a mess — with voice activation is definitely a large improvement.
Although this technology is still relatively new, we can see many companies jumping on the bandwagon and combining smart home devices with home robotics, resulting in a richer mix of functionality.
1. Ubtech Lynx
The versatile Lynx robot gives Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa a whole new look and helps it come alive. Ubtech’s humanoid robot can give weather reports, play your favourite music and make to-do lists. Including a security camera, Ubtech Lynx is a perfect example of a robot with ample smart home integration.
2. Asus Zenbo Junior
It seems Amazon is taking full advantage of the upcoming trend of ‘smart home device meets robot’. Asus Zenbo Junior also boasts built-in Amazon Alexa functionality — a huge advantage for people who own the famous voice assistant already. The Zenbo skill can be enabled via the Alexa app and is controlled using verbal directions. For example, “Alexa, ask Zenbo Junior to follow me”.
Other than controlling various household devices and acting as a fully-fledged security system, Zenbo junior also taps into the emotional side and can even read to your children to keep them entertained.
3. Aido by Ingen Dynamics
Although this service robot is not released yet, we can expect it to make a huge splash once it does. Aido acts as a family-friendly robot that helps with household chores, is an entertainer and teacher for younger ones and proactively monitors older adults. It also taps into retail assistance and collects valuable analytics and customer metrics.