Voice assistant robot sales take off

robby the robotSales of voice assistant robots have taken off and made up nearly half of all service robot sales worldwide last year.

Beancounters at TrendForce said that sales of Amazon’s Echo speaker alone hit 5.2 million units in 2016.

TrendForce also predicted that advances in AI will soon mean that such technology can respond to users’ emotions, habits and expectations.

According to TrendForce, voice-based assistant robots accounted for 47 percent of total service robot sales in 2016, ahead of robot vacuum cleaners on 40 percent; education, entertainment and toy robots on 9.3 percent; and other domestic service robots on 3.1 percent. Professional service robots had a market share of just 0.4 percent last year.

TrendForce’s photonic and innovative technologies research senior manager Harrison Po said that voiced-based robot assistants have been on the market for many years, but sales have not really taken off.

The reason for the boost was the ability to do new functions such as remote operation of connected appliances and internet searches.

“Due to the successes of several assistant robots, many large IT companies and technology startups have decided to enter the market with their own products.”

Amazon is benefiting not only from strong sales of Echo speakers, but also uptake of Alexa by other brands selling similar hardware, including LG and Lenovo, TrendForce said.

“Voice-based assistant robots not only have to continually improve their voice recognition capability, they also have to integrate with more powerful machine-learning technologies,” Po said.