Robotics in the Home

Recently, both McKinsey and The Lancet wrote about home robotics.  The Lancet was more focused on healthcare, but the interesting part was that both talked about it in the home.  So maybe there’s something coming.

The Lancet underscored that new smartphones and sensor technologies can offer medically relevant biometric data — to ensure that where we live and the appliances we use can help report our health information.  Potentially even replacing health screening visits and help manage chronic conditions and ultimately reduce and sometimes eliminate hospital visits.  Over the years care has moved from the hospital to rehab and home and this is taking it one step further by not just moving it home, but enabling follow-up monitoring digitally.

What could this include?  Already, specially equipped senior living apartments have ways to detect falls and analyze gaits through floor mat pressure sensors, cameras, infrared and visual motion sensors.  Eventually, medication adherence via smart pill boxes and other technologies could be monitored, specially equipped TV monitors and appliances could assess dietary patterns and food intake.

There are some smart devices out there now that are being enhanced — such as the artificial pancreas — but these show that devices worn on the body have potential to offer point-of-care diagnostics.  We already have Fitbit so it’s not a hard thing to see continuous vital sign monitoring beyond just the heart rate.  Perhaps even sensors built into chairs.  Star Trek is coming to mind.

Along with health technology — which may be the ultimate drive for this market — are general advances in the home-technology market.  Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be helping drive this as well.  The McKinsey articles estimates that within 10 years many people will have smart homes that will have coordinated software and homebots that manage and perform household tasks.

Two key things would be the technology platforms as well as the software.  Findings in the article also suggest that people like a personal connection with their technology devices.  George Jetson comes to mind.  You may even have a “master bot” that runs all the systems — like a general contractor.  On top of all this is what kind of business model does this take on — and how do you market it.  It will be interesting to see it come to fruition.

 

To read the full articles, please see The Lancet Vol 389 January 28, 2017 article Digital medicine
Towards a smart medical home, pg. 358; and the McKinsey Quarterly article  A smart home is where the bot is from January 2017

 

 

 

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