Introduction to Reselling Household Robots

Consumer robots offer strong margins, put your company at the forefront of technology, and are really cool. Here's a look at five robot categories integrators can sell.

Introduction to Reselling Household Robots
Nao from Aldebaran Robotics
Jason Knott · October 31, 2012

I’ll spare an extensive Rosie the Robot reference from The Jetsons, but the bottom line is that integrators might look into becoming resellers of household robots as part of their custom installation business. The products offer strong 50 percent margins, help put your company at the forefront of technology with customers, and are really cool.

Consumer robots are still at the early adopter phase, according to a recent study by Robotic Trends, a sister website of CE Pro. Household robots come in five primary categories that integrators can purchase (usually manufacturer direct) and re-sell:

Home Health Care Robots: These robots are primarily used for elderly care as reminder mechanisms/social interaction, data collection/surveillance devices, telepresence and even mobile manipulation. The average retail price surveyed consumers are willing to pay is a whopping $7,972.

Personal Robots: These robots (akin to Rosie) are often called companion, entertainment or network robots. These devices usually appear in human (or animal) form and perform household or medically related tasks, such as controlling consumer devices and household appliances, monitoring the status of each device and responding as needs dictate.

These automatons typically come with a variety of sensors, offer facial and voice recognition, and respond to verbal commands. Context-sensitive conversation is a common feature, using voice synthesizers and a substantial vocabulary. Consumers are willing to fork out $3,705 on average for a personal robot. Manufacturers include EMIEW2 from Hitachi Global, PaPeRo from NEC, and iRobi from Yujin Robot Co.

imageRoboMow from Friendly Robotics

Home Care/Lawn Care Robots: This category has the strongest acceptance rate. Most consumers (84 percent) are willing to buy a lawn care or vacuum robot if the unit does as good a job or better than a human. Manufacturers include Roomba, Looj, and Scooba from iRobot; RoboMow from Friendly Robotics; X-Bot from Yujin Robotic; V-R4000 from LG; and VC-RP30W from Samsung. Prices range from $400 to $600 retail.

Smart Toys: Perhaps the entry level to the category, consumers are willing to pay $50 to $100 for a robot toy that is an intelligent extension of a classic children’s toy. They come in a number of varieties, primarily animals, and can be networked via the Internet. Some contain embedded, low-cost consumer electronics technologies such as media players, webcams and cameras. Examples of these devices include WowWee’s Robosapien and Innvo Labs’ Pleo.

Hobby Robots: At the next level above toys are so-called “hobby robots” such as Hitec Robotics Robonova, Kablamm MechRC, KumoTek Robotics KT-X, Aldebaran Robotics Nao, Vstone Robovie-X, and Akazawa PLEN. Hobby robots are typically delivered fully assembled and possess a humanoid form. These come with sophisticated functionality, such as complex movement (walking, running, dancing, etc.), activated by motors, actuators, sensors and controllers. These machines are fully programmable, either via coding or a visual programming interface.

From a sales standpoint, wouldn’t it be cool to enhance the visibility of an automation system with a robot?

Willow Garage PR2 personal robot

  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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