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Press Releases
Japan’s Robotics Industry Bullish on Elderly Care Market, TrendForce Reports


Telecommunications / Consumer Electronics

Japan’s rapidly aging population has led to a projected shortage of caregivers, and the country’s industry giants are now scrambling to take part in this booming market of elderly care services Panasonic and Toyota, for examples, are some of the major players that have entered the emerging sector of nursing care robots for the elderly Their efforts are strongly backed by the government, which has made robotics central to their industrial policy agenda  On January 23, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare announced “New Strategy for Robots” Under this five-year plan, government will support the utilization of robots in different sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing, infrastructure, and other industries In particular, the government has set the biggest share of the program’s budget to the nursing and medicine sector, amounting to nearly JPY 53 billion This sum also represents 33% of Japan’s 2015 budget for funding robotics developments  “Wearable robot technologies have a price advantage and they will drive the market for nursing care robots in Japan,” said Harrison Po, industry consultant for Topology, a division of TrendForce Wearable robots can assist users to maintain their mobility and will become the main product in the nursing care robot market within the next twenty years (2015-2035) The elderly and the disabled depend on assistive technologies that are safe, well-built, and affordable Likewise, their caregivers need wearable robots to prevent work-related injuries as well as to deal with the ever-increasing workload  Currently in Japan, nursing care robots that have been approved for real-world use are relatively few, but many products are under development or clinical trials The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), a wearable robot developed by Japanese robotics company Cyberdyne, is the only powered exoskeleton certified for clinical use in Japan and Europe and has a good sales record Nonetheless, the development process of wearable robots in Japan have reached the maturation stage The country has seen many new models of wearable robots released by new market entrants such as ActiveLink and Innophys The established automakers, including Honda and Toyota, have also invested considerable resources over the years to develop assistant robots Consequently, wearable robots, with their single-function designs and low prices, are more suited for consumer adoption than the multi-function nursing robots that may cost a hundred times more  Po further noted the number of people in Japan aged 65 years or older is projected to increase by 73 million between 2010 and 2025 During that period, their representation in the country’s population will rise from 23% to 30% As for the size of the professional caregiving/nursing labor pool, Japan had around a force of 13 to 15 million in 2010 By 2025, the country will need up to 25 million caregivers to cope with the growing elderly care demand “The rising need for caregivers will also lift the demand for inexpensive nursing care robots,” said Po Therefore, Japan’s “New Strategy for Robots” will further accelerate the development of the more economical wearable robots in order to address the labor shortage in the elderly care service market   

Press Releases
TrendForce Predicts Pepper the Robot Will Bring Forth a Craze in AI and App Development


Telecommunications / Consumer Electronics

In September 2014, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank and French robotic company Aldebaran held a developers conference in Tokyo on its well-known robot project, Pepper During the event, SoftBank unveiled the robot’s technical specifications and app development tools After receiving a lot more orders than anticipated, the company delivered its first shipment of 300 Peppers in February of this year, and all of the robots were sold out within first few minutes when the sale was announced The sale’s huge success showed that Pepper has captured the public’s imagination and the level of interest will only continue to rise as time goes by Harrison Po, consultant of Topology, a division of TrendForce, said SoftBank’s Pepper has opened another window of opportunity in the market for smart service robots In the future, the market size of this kind of robots will grow with new and diverse applications The sales of service robots, for example, has surpassed 5 million units and is projected to grow by 20% in 2015  SoftBank has laid out a detailed and ambitious strategy in the promotion of its creation The company’s goal is to attract developers with aggressive pricing for the purchase of the device and affordable monthly fees on accessing SoftBank’s cloud database of robot AI and other services Each Pepper costs 198,000 Japanese yens and the cloud services cost 24,600 yens per month SoftBank hopes that as more developers work on Pepper’s apps, the robot will later be able to enter the consumer market with an improved and wide repertoire of functions Pepper will be available to the wider public in the middle of this year  Po said that SoftBank’s innovative approach allows developers to build apps on robots like they are doing it on smartphones The developers can expand Pepper’s functions by downloading and installing apps onto the robot, and they can further verify and modify these apps Po expects the quickly sold-out Pepper to initiate a new wave of artificial intelligence and app development craze  Pepper is unique for being the first robot in world that does not serve a utilitarian purpose, such as doing household chores Instead, this robot is designed to be a life companion, with the ability to recognize people’s emotions and provide appropriate responses It is also designed for the consumer market While the robot is both inexpensive and limited in functions, it can evolve with the help of its AI and new apps Pepper can be programmed with additional emotions Therefore, it can also become better at judging and reacting to people’s thoughts and feelings Based on Topology’s assessment, Pepper’s arrival on the market will create the same revolutionary impact as other former emerging industries like computers, the Internet, and smartphones  

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