Samsung to Roll Out Consumer Robots Over the Coming Year
Lane Long posted on February 15, 2019 |
The electronics giant Samsung will market its earliest robots at addressing key issues, such as elder care. (Image courtesy of Samsung.)
The electronics giant Samsung will market its earliest robots at addressing key issues, such as elder care. (Image courtesy of Samsung.)
One of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer electronics is leaning in to a powerful new trend for the sector: robots. Samsung announced plans last month to release a commercial line of AI-enabled robots later in 2019. The Samsung Bot, as it will be officially known, will initially hit the market in three variations, each designed to fill a distinct role.

A long time coming

Samsung, until now, has kept any plans for consumer robots quiet. According to Kim Hyun-Suk, the head of its consumer electronics segment, that’s been due to slower-than-expected development of the AI platform that will support the bots. Following a years-long effort, that platform is finally nearing completion.

The new technology is important to Samsung’s long-term plans, even outside the scope of these new bots. Kim noted that worldwide demand for robots will increase in the coming years, making ongoing development in that area a key priority. “By exploiting Samsung’s know-how in AI, Internet of Things and developing multiple devices, we are considering our options for various types of robots,” Kim said. For now, however, the company is focusing the first Samsung Bots on three secular trends that it sees as relevant in the here and now.

Air, Care, and Retail

The primary emphasis of Kim’s press conference was on Samsung’s Air, Care, and Retail bots. The three are aimed at addressing air quality, health for the elderly, and efficient delivery management in retail, respectively. Samsung sees this group of timely concerns as fertile soil to be capitalized upon with its new automatons.

Consider, for instance, the Care bot. The aging of the world’s population has been well-documented. In some world regions like the United States, the problem of caring for the elderly has reached crisis stage. Samsung’s Care Bot could bring a lot to the table by filling a range of functions that currently must be filled by human health-care workers, of which there simply aren’t enough to go around. The new bot will be able to do things like monitor vital signs, help keep patients on their medication schedules, and contact the appropriate parties in the event of an emergency. Samsung says that if it senses a heart attack, it will call 911 and let family members know—in that order.

While the utility of these robots is clear, there are still kinks to work out. Though commercialization is expected later in 2019, Kim was deliberately vague on timeline. “I can’t say for sure when the products introduced today will be commercialized,” he said. “There are possibilities that robot products not introduced yet could be commercialized first.” Whenever the eventual release happens, one thing is certain—mainstream, consumer robots are on the way.

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