As IoT becomes more commonplace in households, workplaces, and public spaces, a new form of technology has captured customers’ imaginations: IoRT, or the “Internet of Robotic Things.”
If your brand is building IoT-enabled robots, then you’re leading the next phase of IoT’s evolution, combining the computing power of IoT with robots’ ability to influence the physical world around them.
It’s hardly surprising that businesses are so excited about IoRT. In the aftermath of the pandemic, companies are grappling with worker shortages and cost pressures, both of which are pushing them to seek new efficiencies – and new ways to do more with fewer workers on site.
Consumers, on the other hand, are looking for the next level of convenience and comfort in the form of smart personal assistants, robot vacuums, and IoT-enabled companions.
The result is a booming market – one that’s expected to reach US $88.55 billion by 2030.
That means there’s enormous potential revenue on the table for any IoRT brand that can provide customers with the convenience, efficiency, and safety that they’re looking for from smart robots.
To win that revenue, you’ll need to have a clear idea of the most valuable use cases in the market – and know how to overcome the one key objection that could bring the whole industry crashing down. Smart robotics usage spans multiple verticals and categories, from industrial settings to home, healthcare, and modern enterprises.
Which IoRT use cases have the biggest growth potential?
The autonomous supply chain – industrial robots
If there’s anyone that’s ready to take the leap from IoT to IoRT, it’s supply chain managers.
IoT sensors are already changing the way that companies track production, transport assets, and supply products. Robots are speeding up production lines, stocking shelves, and moving products. It’s easy to convince customers of the benefits of combining IoT and robotics to create something even more powerful.
Customers are particularly excited about using IoRT to:
Move from machine analytics to autonomous maintenance – IoT has already helped customers monitor the status and health of their machinery more closely. Now, they want to use IoRT-powered robots to detect and fix issues without the need for human intervention.
Adapt to demand in real time – If you can promise customers the chance to majorly reduce overstocks and wasted product, you’ll have their full attention instantly. Customers want to give their production machinery the ability to take in real-time consumer demand data and dynamically adjust the amount or type of products they manufacture.
Turbocharge product selection – Between rising labor costs, limited warehouse space, and the pressure to deliver more products faster, companies like Amazon and Ocado are always looking for ways to make product selection more efficient. Show them how automatic product selection robots can find the right product, package it up, label it, and send it out for shipping completely autonomously, and your brand will be sure to stick in their mind.
There’s nothing like a pandemic to push the healthcare industry to modernize. COVID-19 left healthcare organizations scrambling to deliver care to more people while dealing with their own staff shortages. Not to mention that they needed to substantially reduce the likelihood of infection by minimizing the number of hospital staff on site at any given time.
Customers in healthcare are increasingly drawn to IoRT that can help them:
Monitor patient needs and deliver drugs faster – The ability to remotely monitor a patient’s vital signs and health indicators was invaluable during the pandemic, when customers were trying to reduce contact between patients and providers as much as possible. Now, they’re looking to continue to control the risk of infection and use staff’s time more effectively. Reel them in by showing them how they can use IoT to monitor a patient’s status and determine when drugs should be administered and the correct dosage, and then use robots to deliver those drugs to patients.
Perform complex surgical procedures more safely – While robots are already relatively common for particularly delicate or complex micro procedures, these robots still need intense supervision from already overstretched surgeons. That’s why customers are becoming more open to the idea of AI-enabled robots that can complete some of these tasks autonomously, requiring only the occasional correction from surgeons looking on.
Provide a better service for patients – It’s an age-old problem in the healthcare industry: Patients recover faster when they’re in a comfortable, welcoming environment, but healthcare workers rarely have the time to give patients as much time as they would like. That’s why service robots that can set up patient rooms, take bed linens to and from laundries, and disinfect designated areas are often an appealing gateway to IoRT for many healthcare providers.
Support staff – Some industrial robots, like Temi, are becoming very popular for their ability to function as mobile nurse stations, helping staff to check patient identities, take blood pressure readings, escort patients, and even play music or make calls for patients with limited mobility.
The standards for convenience keep rising. Now that customers are becoming more accustomed to everything from smart meters and smart lighting to smart doorbells, tech enthusiasts are ready to move on to the next stage: bringing smart robotics into their homes.
The key driver here is trust: Customers need to feel completely confident that it’s safe to let IoRT devices move freely around their homes, collect their data, and make changes to their environment.
The IoRT devices that are likely to see the most growth in this sector are those that help customers:
Monitor their homes’ safety, security, and comfort more closely – Smart HVAC systems, surveillance cameras, and fire alarms are powerful, but they can’t pick up everything. That’s why customers with money to invest are looking to devices like Amazon Astro, which uses “advanced navigation technology to find its way around your home and go where you need it.” Consumers are particularly impressed by Astro’s ability to deliver messages to family members in another part of the house, check in on residents in certain rooms, send you a notification if it detects the sound of broken glass while you’re away from home, and even call an emergency helpline hands-free. Robots like these are particularly popular in senior care homes, allowing residents to play music and video-chat with family members without forcing them to handle confusing or hard-to-handle mobile devices. Temi’s robot can even tell stories and prompt residents to play memory games.
Handle time-consuming, labor-intensive, and boring tasks – Robot vacuums are becoming fairly commonplace, but customers are looking for something that can work more efficiently and be more closely controlled. If you can show customers that your devices can use IoT to handle more complex household tasks, or be directed to focus on particularly tricky areas, you’ll find it much easier to win their business.
What’s standing in the way of IoRT market growth?
The IoRT market is growing rapidly now, but there’s a worrying cloud on the horizon: If IoRT devices don’t become more secure, and fast, the market’s going to be hit with a wave of hacks and data losses that could decimate demand.
The reality is that IoT-enabled robots have all of the same vulnerabilities as any other IoT devices – and all the vulnerabilities of robots too.
A 2021 study broke down all of the potential areas where an IoRT device could be vulnerable to attack:
The robot’s hardware is vulnerable to hardware Trojan attacks or the implementation of back-door systems during maintenance or installation.
The robot’s firmware is vulnerable to DoS and D-DoS attacks, along with arbitrary code execution and rootkit attacks, viruses, worms, software Trojan attacks, and malicious code injection attacks.
The robot’s communication could be jammed, disrupting communications with humans or other machines. Hackers could also hijack and steal data transmitted between the robot and its controllers, using false data injections to target the integrity of the data gathered by robots.
When brands are racing to keep up with demand – and stay ahead of the competition – there’s intense pressure to ship products as fast as possible. And that makes it much easier to rush through security tests, sending products out to market with vulnerabilities like hard-coded credentials, unencrypted development keys, and a huge range of other security weaknesses.
Many customers are already highly aware of these vulnerabilities – and, if IoRT brands don’t secure their devices, it will only take a few high-profile breaches to convince a huge chunk of customers to avoid investing in IoRT altogether.
Want to lead the IoRT market? Secure your devices now
It’s an incredibly exciting time for the IoRT industry. But, if you want your brand to grow and build strong, trust-based, long-term relationships with customers, you can’t just focus on delivering innovative products; you need to make advanced security a priority.
It’s not just a protective measure. If you approach it correctly, you’ll find that superior security can be a major differentiation point for your IoRT brand – one that will set you apart from the competition, as well as protecting your customers.
Want support on building ironclad security into the heart of your devices and turning security into a competitive advantage? We’re here to help with everything from hyper-responsive built-in endpoint detection and response (EDR), to advice on making superior security a pillar of your marketing strategy.
Get in touch with the Firedome team to find out more.
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