How to care for aging populations? Social robots such as Pepper, Jibo and Kuri are seen as necessary to meet a “paramount need,” says Juniper Research. But so far their social skills are lacking.

“Presently, social robots are little more than expensive smart home speakers – they may look impressive but their performance is limited”, says Juniper research author Steffen Sorrell.

What do they need?

“Visual and aural understanding, service integration and emotional intelligence will form the key pillars that drive consumer interest in social robotics,” he explains.

While demand for robots to be used for such things as household cleaning is growing, Juniper projects that the slow developed of robotic social skills means “consumer appetite for social robots will be more limited and not gain traction until 2021.”

The findings are contained in “Consumer Robotics: Investment, Disruptors & Future Prospects 2017-2021.”

Household robots

Watch out for many more robots at home, however.

More than 1 in 10 American households “will own a housekeeping robot by 2020, with global unit shipments reaching 48 million in 2020, up from 15.7 million this year,” Juniper says.

Key drivers include:

  • Less available time for household chores
  • Increasing urbanization

Growing demand was “reflected at CES 2017 where nearly half of the Robotics marketplace was dedicated to this class of consumer robot. In addition, a swathe of large-scale vendors, including Dyson, Samsung and LG have unveiled housekeeping robots, demonstrating a viable commercial proposition,” Juniper notes.