The robots are coming and they’re here to help. Help clean your windows, teach children, or even provide entertainment or companionship.
This week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas highlights enormous growth in robotics in a range of fields. Meet Bo and Yana, for example – they’re cute robots that can fit in your hand and help teach youngsters about programming.
“It’s all about programmable play,” said Vikas Gupta, founder of California-based Play-i, which designed the toys. The duo can play with each other, fight, display expressions with their single eye, or even hit notes on the xylophone. “Music becomes a way for kids to be engaged,” Gupta told reporters. “We want kids to learn programming and not be bothered with cognitive overload.” The robots are designed for children as young as five and are being launched this year in a crowdfunding effort, the former Google and Amazon executive said. But play is just one of the many areas of robotics on display at the show, from simple one-task robots to clean a roof gutter or barbecue grill and others that can be a kind of companion to the elderly. There are also so-called telepresence robots, including the Double Robotics device seen on TV shows such as NCIS Los Angeles. The Double Robotics gadget includes an iPad attached to a wheeled device that allows a telecommuter to show “face time” in the office even when working remotely. The results, at least on television, can often provide comic relief. The global market for consumer robots was $1.6 billion in 2012, dominated by the task and entertainment segments, according to ABI Research, but this is expected to grow to $6.5 billion in 2017 with security and telepresence becoming more significant.
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