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Robots might always seem to be a concrobotept that’s way off in the future, or conveyed to us as thrilling ideas we see in the big blockbuster movies, but in 2017, many already exist in our smart homes. Amazon’s ALEXA, and Google Home, which are essentially voice-operated assistants, are early forms of robots, awaiting commands that range from playing specific music, preparing the coffee pot, or finding out the score of the big game. Many of these commands are things we already perform on our own mobile devices. But at CES last week, where the robotics marketplace premiered some of the most advanced and high-tech robots in the world, robots made it very clear that they offer something we can’t quite get from our iPhones, tablets, or voice assistants, and that they are indeed the next step in the evolution of the Internet of Things. In fact, Steve Cousins, a speaker at CES on CNET’s “Robots: Are They Ready to Help” panel, and CEO of Savioke, an autonomous robotics technology company, predicted that twice as many people will interact with robots in 2017 than they did in 2016.

Steve Carlin, vice president of SoftBank Robotics America,  said during the panel, “Robotics takes that wall between you and your environment, that cell phone, and gets rid of it.” Carlin explained the progression we’ve seen in technology over the last couple of decades as having gone from desktop to laptop to mobile, and now we see robotics entering the fray as well. “That’s spurred by one of the key consumer trends: The ability to talk to your devices,” he said. We’ve seen it in Siri, as well as the voice search on X1, and it will only become more of a dominant feature in our daily lives as technology catches up to what consumers seek the most: meaningful interactions and conversation. As many of the robots that roamed the showfloor at CES exhibited, people can cut right to the chase and just get to what they want without pulling out their own mobile devices and starting a search of their own — whether it’s a daily chore they want done, locking up the garage door, or checking what the weather will be later that day.