Business / Technology

Demand is rising for robotic home help

By Shi Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-01 07:52

Demand is rising for robotic home help

Robot 'PR2' flips a pancake in a laboratory kitchen of the Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the Institute of Informatics and Automation of Bremen University in Bremen, Germany, Feb 27, 2013. [Photo / CFP]

No matter how sophisticated robots are or how many latest technologies have been applied, consumers' expectations for domestic robots still focus mostly on them doing household chores.

Sixty-four percent of the 5,024 consumers surveyed by Ericsson Consumer Lab worldwide said that they expect domestic robots to help them with housework such as washing or cooking.

Such domestic robots are expected to be available by 2020.

In China, first-tier cities, especially Shanghai, have heard the loudest cries for housekeeping robots.

"Chinese city dwellers, especially those living in the first-tier metropolises, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have more expectations for how the future technology will influence their lives in the next five years. They have shown more interest in new technologies than their peers in other countries or regions," said Michael Bjorn, research director of Ericsson Consumer Lab.

Among all the eight surveyed categories, "help with the washing" received the most votes, with 57 percent of the polled global respondents giving it top priority. The respondents in Shanghai are even more enthusiastic about help with the washing, with 76 percent of them saying they would like their future domestic robots do this job for them.

The second most desired ability for domestic robots is to teach consumers how to use the latest technology. This was the same both globally and in Shanghai. As explained by Xu Xiaoli, Northeast Asia regional director of Ericsson Consumer Lab, this function was especially popular among older respondents.

Help with cooking is the third most wanted function from domestic robots, with 44 percent of the global respondents saying "Yes" to that and 74 percent of the interviewees in Shanghai giving this the thumbs-up.

Yang Yun, 31, a pediatrician in a local hospital in Shanghai, said she would most like her future domestic robot to prepare dinner every day, as she has to rush home every day to do that now.

"I am totally worn out after a day's work at the hospital. It would be OK for me to dine out, which is quick and easy. But since I have a three-year-old daughter, I have to put her health on top of everything else. Thinking of what to eat every day and rushing home to cook for the family is a huge task for me. But if I had such a robot at home, which saves all this trouble, life after work would be a breeze," she said.

In Shanghai, there was also a big demand for robots as companions. About 71 percent of the respondents in Shanghai said this is of huge importance to them while the global average figure was only 36 percent.

"Respondents in places facing the problem of an aging society, including Tokyo and Stockholm, have a higher demand for this. So we can see that apart from fulfilling practical daily chores, there is also for a psychological need, which will be on the rise in the future," said Xu.


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