Robots aren’t just adding a new dimension to the labor force, they’re serving as loyal human companions. In countries like Japan, robots are being used to supplant human interaction in the wake of social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While many people have learned to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, and colleagues through videoconferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reduction of face-to-face interaction has boosted a market for robots providing substitutes for physical human contact,” a Japan Today article noted.
“Healing robots,” such as the cuddly humanoid Lovot developed by Groove X Inc, Sony Corp’s Aibo robotic dog, and Qoobo, a furry cushion with a tail that moves in reaction to strokes developed by Yukai Engineering Inc., are seeing sharp sales rises, the companies say.
“Lovot and Aibo can gather data on the well-being of their owners and report it remotely, which is why some people are gifting the automatons to their elderly parents living far away whom they are refraining from visiting due to infection risks,” the report added further.
“When people feel uneasy or lonely, they tend to yearn for a sense of physical touch,” said Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University. “Through healing robots, they must be trying to confirm the actual existence of others, which is hard to really feel on the telephone or through videoconferencing.”
Exchange-traded fund investors can take advantage of the proliferation in robots and AI via the Global X Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic ETF (BOTZ ). BOTZ seeks to invest in companies that potentially stand to benefit from increased adoption and utilization of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), including those involved with industrial robotics and automation, non-industrial robots, and autonomous vehicles.
Additionally, BOTZ seeks to provide investment results that correspond generally to the price and yield performance, before fees and expenses, of the Indxx Global Robotics & Artificial Intelligence Thematic Index. The index itself captures large and mid cap representation across 23 Developed Markets (DM) and 24 Emerging Markets (EM) countries.
Speaking of human reactions, investors in BOTZ have to be ecstatic the way the ETF has been performing thus far this year. The fund is up 32% year-to-date, according to Yahoo! Finance performance numbers.
“BOTZ enables investors to access high growth potential through companies involved in the ideation, design, creation and application of programmable automated devices,” the fund’s website noted.