Service Robots In Trade Show Industry

Service robots are increasingly in demand and the market for this product class is projected to reach $17.1 billion between 2013 and 2016. These robots, however, can also change the face of the trade show and conference industry -- a market estimated at over $100 billion annually, says Simon Dudley, video evangelist at LifeSize Communications.

Service robots can serve as a sort of avatar for trade show attendees, saving them time as they roam along the aisles of a trade show. In fact, such telepresence robots are already making inroads into the market; last October, Suitable Technology offered 50 telepresence robots for rent at the RoboConference and the company's chief executive said that 10,000 could be available at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2015.

The original idea about service robots was to use them at the office, to give telecommuting employees the same access that physically-present workers have. However, says Dudley, this is hardly a sustainable business path, since there could only be so many robots standing in for people even in a large company office. Trade shows, on the other hand, are fertile ground for telepresence robots. Things like travel costs and accommodation at a large trade show can be very expensive and such expenses can be even greater for attendees coming from abroad. Robots could eliminate them entirely or reduce them significantly, still allowing people to take part in a trade show relevant to them. This could lead to a reconsideration of the usual trade show environment and could also result in the gradual elimination of print promotion materials, to be replaced by QR codes that could be scanned by the robot. In short, robots can entirely transform the face of the trade show if given the chance.