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    PREDICTIONS

    Will Pet Robots be tiny or huge by 2030?

    Meet Tom Stevens, the CEO of the startup, Tombot. He is on a mission to create pet robots that people love.

    And meet Anita who recently adopted a real puppy.

    In this article, I predict how huge Pet Robots will be by 2030 on a scale of 1 to 10 based on looking at:

    • The technology needed
    • The companies making it happen
    • What's to love
    • jobs that will be hired.

    Technology

    Pet robots will be huge if the three major technology challenges are solved.

    Look cute

    To make pet robots look cute by 2030 is solved.

    Tom uses various techniques to craft cute looking pet robots. His company Tombot's "Jennie" model has synthetic pet fur, realistic pet eyes and a wagging tail.
    Ted Fischer, founder of Ageless Innovation, also uses synthetic fur on his Pet Pup robot which helps the dog robot put a smile on the face of its elderly owner
    and helps this cat robot do that too. And Moflin, created from a Kickstarter campaign, has life-like movements and makes the cutest noises.
    And whilst Sony's Aibo, doesn't have fur, its design makes it look cute.

    Learn and Love

    The technology needed for pet robots to learn and love by 2030
    is maybe solved. Interactive sensors and algorithms are the two technologies used to create robot pets that learn and love. The sensors allow the pet robots to feel
    where and how they are being touched as you see here with Tom's Jennie.

    With Moflin the focus is gathering data daily which it uses to feed algorithms that give a unique personality independent of factory presets. Moflin can be happy, stressed, calm, sad, anxious and excited just like a real pet.
    Sony's Aibo makes use of its front-facing camera to use Simultaneous localization and mapping technology (SLAM) to create a map to navigate its environment.

    Walk, Bark, Meow

    By 2030, the technology needed for pet robots to walk, bark or meow like a pet is "Maybe Solved". To walk and bark like Monty here, the pet robot engineers use artificial intelligence and audio equipment.
    Tom gathers motion-capture videos from real pets that he feeds into machine learning algorithms to help his Jennie to move like a dog. But at the moment neither Tom's Jennie nor Ted's Pet Pup can walk by themselves yet.
    However, other pet robots such as Sony's Aibo can walk autonomously -
    reasonably lifelike - using multiple finely tuned motors. And for the pet robots to talk, Tom's Jennie has a built-in speaker with recordings from a 12 week old Labrador puppy to make the Tombot model sound authentic

    Companies

    Pet robots will be huge if there are unicorns -  startup companies that have a valuation of more than a billion dollars and when there's plenty of big established companies.

    Tombot

    Tom's company, Tombot may one day be a unicorn. When Tom's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011 - and no longer capable of taking care of her dog - Tom was inspired to found Tombot... ... to develop pet robots that don't require much care and attention, especially from the elderly. He said, "I learned that my mum's story isn't unique. There are millions of Americans who can't safely or practically care for a live animal."

    Ageless Innovation

    Ageless Innovation is another startup. Its CEO, Ted Fischer, was an executive with Hasbro, a major toy maker. While there, he launched the Joy for All brand, Habros first ever brand focused on the elderly. Three years later, he and his former Hasbro teammates founded Ageless Innovation and acquired the Joy for All brand in a friendly management spin-out.

    Vanguard Industries

    Vanguard Industries is a Japanese startup. They are the developers of the Moflin pet.

    Not many multinational companies are active.  SONY is the main one.

    Investing in AI
    Sony is investing in AI so that when Aibo's owners praise or scold it, this is uploaded and processed in the cloud adapting its behaviour the next day.

    Love

    Now we look at Love.  Pet Robots will be huge if they attract plenty of 5-star ratings and a few 1 stars.

    Easy to look after

    5 stars for being easy to look after. With a pet robot you don't have to go for daily walks or feed it. No more worrying about the vet bills, they never bite. They just need charging up.

    Mental health

    5 stars for improving mental health. Today, pets have proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ease stress levels, as well as reduce depression in their owners. By 2030, owners of pet robots will be able to stroke,  hug or touch their pet puppy to soothe them when they're stressed or anxious.
    "Seeing Aibo and those big OLED eyes looking at you and being very expressive, it didn't take long to really fall in love with him. " says Chris Werfel who has 28 Aibos

    Not real

    1 star for not being real. However good these pet robots get, some people will never accept them considering them fake and without any merit.

    Jobs

    If Pet robots are going to be huge there will be lots of jobs hired and fired.

    Some vets may one day lose their jobs because there's less animal pets.

    On the hired side, Tom's team has no job vacancies listed on LinkedIn at the time of recording.

    Roles that would be relevant include... AI Specialists Programmers Designers Market Research HR Legal It's well worth looking at LinkedIn if you're interested in getting a job in the pet robots sector. Jobs in new sectors like pet robots are exciting and often more secure than in older sectors

    Because there's few jobs being fired and hired, from a Jobs point of view, pet robots is at the low end of the scale.

    Prediction

    Now we've covered all four sections, it's time to make a prediction.

    The technology needed is mostly solved

    There are no unicorns today.

    It gets an overall 3 stars rating

    And there aren't many jobs being hired

    On a scale of 1 to 10, pet robots is at the lower end of the scale by 2030 at a 4.

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