Changing demographics are leading to major growth in robot development in both Japan and China:
• In Japan, the ageing population means there is a shortage of people to do the heavy lifting required when people become ill
• Equally important, as shown in the above Financial Times video, is the role of innovation in developing robotic technologies to help people when they become disabled
• Older people can often become disabled by strokes and other disorders. Now Toyota is developing robotic technology that helps them regain their sense of balance and muscle control
• China is also facing up to demographic changes. Its supply of cheap labour is now coming to an end, due to the one-child policy. Consultancy Ernst & Young suggests the labour force will move into long-term decline next year
• As a result, China saw 51% growth in use of industrial robots last year and is already the world’s 6th largest market – expected to outpace Japan in 2014 at current growth rates
• The giant Foxconn group has plans to install as many as 1 million robots
“Demographics is destiny” as the blog noted yesterday. And as we discussed in chapter 8 of ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal’, the opportunities for those companies who grasp this simple truth are enormous.