Fast-Growing Telepresence Robot Market is Changing the Way We Work and Communicate

The telepresence robot market is growing consistently due to extended use in telemedicine and remote work. Driving this expansion are the increasing demand for virtual interactions and communications, and the operational efficacy these devices have proven to provide. These are some of the latest developments in telepresence robots and gadgets.

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Image courtesy of Photos Hobby.

Telepresence robots have been around for the better part of a decade. However, it’s only recently that changes in the way we work, directed in large part by the COVID-19 pandemic, have made them grow out of niche use cases and into the mainstream.

The telepresence robots market in 2019 had an estimated worth of $181.6 million. By 2027, this number is expected to increase to at least $789.1 million at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2%.

As companies redesign their policies around distributed workforces and downsize their physical locations, telepresence robots have shown they can offer collaboration advantages as well as technological benefits. In particular, they’ve become especially useful in telemedicine, driving heavy investment from R&D robotics.

There are still some challenges that can hinder the growth of the market. Costs, the danger of data breaches, and the possibility of operational failures are all things to consider when referring to this industry.

However, the new generation of telepresence robots are being designed around specific fields and workflows and, as such, present fewer obstacles for wider implementation.

Notable Telepresence Robots

Ergotron was founded in 1982 and patented some of the first ergonomic tilt stands, desk stands, and mountain arms. Their StyleView is a niche product for the healthcare market, although it could be adapted to a number of other fields.

The robot, a rollable ergonomic cart, is built on an open architecture — meaning it can integrate most standard communications equipment and be configured with the devices and systems a hospital already has in place. Because the design is ergonomic, caregivers can also work comfortably as they focus on remote care.

Ergotron’s product combines the power of videoconference with onboard diagnostics and is currently being used for patient consultations in doctors’ offices and hospitals. Last July, they launched a new StyleView wall system and an electric desk for telemetry.

PadBot is a telepresence robot developed in China by Inbot Technology Ltd. that is available in eight models depending on the desired use. The company has its global HQ in Guangzhou and headquarters in Texas, U.S.

Users can utilize PadBot to represent themselves remotely using video, voice, and movements in real-time. The robot can be controlled in order to move around and tilt its head. A set of handles creates a platform for an iPad, iPad mini, or Android pad to act as a ‘brain.’

The PadBot is an excellent example of what a telepresence robot can do in the context of business and family life. The T1 and T2 models are small enough to be carried around, the U1, U2, P1, and P2 are a wheeled series for business use, and the P3 and X1 are humanoid-looking robots that can chat, sing, and dance.

PadBot’s simple yet very useful solutions provide unique flexibility for face-to-face conversations and remote work.

Meeting Owl is a conferencing system that can automatically focus its video and audio capabilities on the person speaking in a room. Although it doesn’t move, it provides an affordable tabletop system for teams to conference and collaborate remotely.

The Owl uses an array of eight microphones and a 360-degree 720p camera to pick up sound and lock on whoever is talking. On the other end, attendants can get a panoramic view of all people in the meeting and a close-up of the current speaker.

The system is powered by artificial intelligence (AI), has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, and can fully integrate with all major video conferencing systems such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Slack. It also works out of the box and requires no configuration.

Ava is a more complex type of telepresence robot. Used mostly in large workspaces, events, and retail, this enterprise-grade video conferencing system can create natural interactions on-site.

The Ava features autonomous and intelligent navigation. A remote user can specify a destination, which the robot will reach on its own. Its advanced mapping capabilities allow it to analyze and learn from the local environment, avoid obstacles, and find the best possible route.

The robot has a sleek form factor that makes it perfect for client-facing businesses and sectors like hospitality. It’s also embedded with enterprise-grade security, which includes encryption, password protection, and HTTPS management.

The Future of Telepresence Robots

Due in part to the onset of COVID-19, telepresence robots and gadgets are growing at an impressive rate. North America was one of the earliest adopters of the technology, and actively uses robots in home care, distance education, and as personal assistants today.

While the US serves as the backbone of the telepresence robots growth, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to become a manufacturing hub — accounting even for the largest market share by 2028. This is in part due to the presence of fast-growing robotics manufacturing sectors in Japan, China, India, and South Korea, as well as cheaper labor and national policies that boost the domestic industry in developing countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia.

The telepresence robots offered today reflect the wide range of use cases for the technology. Revolutionary advances in terms of camera resolution and bandwidth speeds have allowed these devices to work seamlessly and enhance their role in day-to-day use.

It’s expected that the changes the pandemic has brought to communication and interaction will produce more long-term positive attitudes toward telemedicine and remote work. This creates a huge opportunity for telepresence and videoconferencing robots and systems.

While gadgets like the Meeting owl are probably going to be adopted by companies that intend to enhance their processes at a lower cost, more complex models like the StyleView or the PadBot can make a great impression for client-facing businesses.

All of these devices will most likely see a steep increase in adoption in the coming years, as they become more useful, flexible, and robust.

This article was originally published in Startup Savant on October 24, 2020. Link: https://startupsavant.com/news/telepresence-robot-market

Written by

Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at www.yisela.com

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