Rise of the Social Robot: Fact or Fad?

Rise of the Social Robot: Fact or Fad?

Will social robots be the next add-on to your home automation systems? 

As you’ve seen in the last decade, mobile device connectivity has exploded when it comes to smart home technology. And experts say, robots could be the next new thing your luxury clients demand.

The tech world is certainly a long ways away from advancements such as Artificial Intelligence or worrying about a Terminator-like machine uprising, but the robotics industry has been making great strides in recent years, especially in the smart home.

“It’s already on the horizon. We already have robots,” said Wanda Gozdz, a certified aging in place specialist. “iRobot already has a vacuum that cleans your floors, so some of that technology is already out there and providing assistance to people without us even thinking about it.”

Don't worry, folks. When it comes to robots, we definitely aren't here...yet
Don’t worry, folks. When it comes to robots, we definitely aren’t here … yet.

Gozdz sees robotics as a growing industry, both for aging in place and in general.

It is certainly something for builders to keep an eye out for as robots become more than just a trend. 

Robotics company iRobot has the aforementioned Roomba for vacuum cleaning, the Scooba for floor scrubbing, the Braava for mopping and even outdoor robots Mirra and Looj for pool and gutter cleaning, respectively.

But what about the rise of the social robot? These are robots that can move around, embrace you in conversation or give you good laugh. Robots that can learn and grow and alert you in case of emergencies or even just simple scheduling. Robots that offer life accessibility beyond home automation. Beyond the smart phone or tablet or home computer. Do these robots even exist?

Here, we highlight three major products that will be blowing up within the next few years. And for anyone who doubts these products, take a look at present tech compared to past.

Now, think about the future.


Buddy the Robot, from Blue Frog Robotics
Buddy the Robot, from Blue Frog Robotics.


Buddy the robot comes from French tech start-up Blue Frog Robotics and is an open source device being claimed as the “companion robot accessible to everyone.” So what can the robot do?

Buddy can be your personal assistant and remind you of scheduled appointments and keep you on task. Buddy will patrol your home when you are away and alert you if there is anything out of the ordinary. He is a hands-free helper, much like a voice activated smart phone, and can also be used to entertain children with fun games. Lastly, Buddy uses its camera to connect you with loved ones via video chats.

Builders could strongly consider Buddy as an amenity to their housing projects as it combines at home security, entertainment and voice activated accessibility.

It can certainly be offered as a luxury lure for buyers looking for the best and latest tech options in their smart home. It would allow people to teleconference from their homes for business and monitor their homes when they’re away. 

And as trends have suggested, Buddy’s reputation is growing more favorable each day.

With its pleasant animated face and charming design, Buddy has proven extremely popular in the crowdfunding arena, raising nearly 400% of its $100,000 funding goal on Kickstarter. Supporters of Buddy have already made their orders through this site, and Buddy models are expected to ship by May of next year. As Buddy grows more popular, builders should seize the opportunity to implement the robot in their homes.

Jibo swivels in place and can be used for many purposes, including entertaining your children
Jibo can move freely around the home.


Another crowdfunding success story, Jibo offers similar components to Buddy and is being marketed as the “first social robot for the home.” Jibo can be a personal assistant, a messenger, a photographer, a storyteller and even a companion.

What is limited in Jibo, compared to Buddy, is movement. While Buddy can move freely around the home, Jibo stays fixed in one spot, usually on a desk or tabletop. Although, it swivels and follows with its camera, making it always aware of what happens in the room it is in.

Is this as strong a case as Buddy for a robot builders can consider adding to their projects? Jibo certainly has a fan base, and the key would be marketing this amenity as something consumers truly need by their side. As years pass, robots will likely begin to become standard in the smart home, so for builders looking to jump on this trend, Jibo is another model to strongly consider.

Pepper the robot is designed with emotions in mind
Pepper the robot can offer emotional understanding for luxury clients.


Pepper from Aldebaran Robotics is hailed as “the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans.”

Pepper is the most emotionally-based robotic invention of the bunch, designed to specifically converse with users, recognize and react to emotions, and move and live autonomously. Pepper is designed to detect specific emotions and base how it acts off of this. So if you are sad, expect Pepper to tell you a joke. If you are happy, Pepper will want to join in on the joy.

Pepper has a goal of constant adaptation and self-improvement. It aims to learn from humans and acclimate to their behavior. Aldebaran’s goal is to have Pepper be the foremost robotic product to have in the home.

So, for builders looking to add a little emotional understanding to their luxury housing projects, look no further than adding Pepper as an option.

As a builder, would you consider implementing any of these social robots as additions to your projects? What benefits do you feel they would offer to your clients? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

About The Author

Greg Vellante is a staff writer and multimedia specialist at TecHome Builder, as well as a content coordinator for AE Ventures events. He has over a decade of experience writing for various publications on topics that range from cinema to editorials to home technology. His favorite technologies fall into the A/V and home entertainment realm, and he’s keeping a close eye on the rising trends in robotics and virtual/augmented reality. Greg resides in Boston, holds a degree in Media Studies from Emerson College and pursues screenwriting/filmmaking in his free time.

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