Samsung introduced BotCare, a caring robot, at CES 2019. BotCare is part of the company’s Bixby, an AI platform that supports Samsung’s robotic offerings for environmental health (air), retail, and healthcare. Think: medication reminders and around-the-house services that a human homecare aid might perform, among other medical support tasks.
But visions of Rosie-the-Robot serving up healthcare at home is beyond most consumers’ desires at this moment, according to a new survey published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Robotics: Current Landscape & Consumer Perceptions.
Most U.S. adults have positive views toward robotics in general, CTA found. There’s optimism for use of robotics in many consumer applications, such as education and STEM, household tasks, leisure and recreation, delivery, retail and hospitality.
However, peoples’ enthusiasm for robotics applied to healthcare and caregiving lags.
The top perceived benefits of robotics’ use in healthcare would be to make life easier/more convenient, drive cost-effectiveness (save money), and save time, consumers said.
Underneath peoples’ hesitation to welcome robotics to healthcare and caregiving are doubts about the technology’s performance — specifically, concerns about robots’ ability to accomplish tasks safely and effectively — and a preference for humans to perform caregiving and medical tasks.
Still, two-thirds of U.S. adults would be open to personally using a health care robot, CTA found, with one-third opposed to the concept.
Four in ten people are not aware or have not heard of robots used in the health care space. Over one third have heard of robotics for healthcare but not seen them, 20% have seen in the media, and 7% have seen robots for healthcare in person. Only 5% of people had interacted with a robot-tech for healthcare or caregiving.
Non-users would tend to be those not aware of robotics’ use in health and caregiving, women, and people 65 and older, the CTA research learned.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: That older Americans would be less likely to welcome and trust robotics for health care is not a surprise. But these are also some of the people who could most benefit from the deployment of safe, sensitively-designed, and effective robots for caregiving and medical care at home. We see early examples of robot-type implementations in at-home elder care and robots in hospitals, CTA details, and the pilots have yielded learnings, both positive and constructive for future re-designs and iterations.
Mainstream consumers have begun to welcome remote and virtual care technologies as more convenient, accessible and lower-cost touchpoints and on-ramps for their personal health services. Robotics are part of the growing Internet of Things for health, and increasingly to morph our homes into our personal health hubs.
I point this out in my book, HealthConsuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizen. As the early adopters of retail clinics, telemedicine visits, and food subscriptions have shared their experiences with others, these services have reached tipping point-mainstream status in the health/care landscape. So, too, will robots, over time, achieve greater adoption and penetration with the proviso that they are proven to be safe and effective in the specific tasks for which they are designed…and if the human touch of health care is preserved where people want it so.
For more on Bixby and BotCare, check out this video from Samsung’s CES 2019 press conference.