Asustek Computer Inc. plans to expand from mobile devices into healthcare robotics in the coming year. The Taiwan-based company started out as a manufacturer of motherboards for PCs.
This parallels the development of information technology from personal computing through smartphones and robots, thanks to the increasing processing power and density according to Moore’s Law.
Asus’ roadmap places a high priority on the “smart home,” including cloud computing and robotics, said Jonathan Tzeng, Asus vice chairman, last year. The company expects to develop robots to help care for children and the elderly.
Asustek’s AGAiT Technology Corp. unit already offers several household cleaning robots. Taiwan is trying to catch up to China, South Korea, and other nations in consumer electronics, but it has lost some market share.
In addition, Asustek’s Da Vinci Lab is working on combining big data and robotics. Under the Internet of Things (IoT), the ability to gather and analyze data from around the home or worksite and then act on it could be valuable.
“That would complete the third generation of the industrial revolution,” Shih said.
Asus has teamed up with Google for the OnHub router, which could be another step toward the smart home. The $200 device uses a processor from Qualcomm, which is also trying to establish an ecosystem for its own mobile processors.
The IoT market, however, is still far from mature, say some industry observers. It remains to be seen which companies will be successful at transitioning from sensor and mobile technologies to true IoT.
Xiaomi rolls into robotics
Asustek isn’t the only consumer electronics company looking to move into robotics. Last month, Xiaomi Inc. announced the Ninebot mini, a two-wheeled vehicle based on technology it acquired from Segway this year.
China-based Xiaomi is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, after Samsung and Apple. Like other electronics manufacturers, it has suffered from slowing orders for PCs and tablets.
More on Asian Robotics Investments:
- Taiwan Finally Gets Serious About Building Robots
- Intel Invests $67 Million in Chinese Tech Firms
- Segway and Ninebot Roll Off Together as a Couple
- Google Invests in Chinese AI Company
- Pepper for Biz Comes to Japan
- Dell to Invest $125 Billion in China for AI, Market Access
- Bombs Away: Intel Drops $60 Million on China Drone Maker
Both are Asustek and Xiaomi are competing for the Brazilian smartphone market. Despite their competition and the shrinking global market, Asustek has been looking for partners in Xiaomi’s supply chain.
Xiaomi was banned in India last year for infringing on Ericsson’s patents, allowing Asustek to increase its smartphone shipments from about 800,000 units this year to 2.5 million in 2016. Taiwan-based Foxconn Electronics manufactures phones for both Asus and Xiaomi, as well as Apple.
India is the world’s largest smartphone market, and up to 100 million smartphones are expected to be sold there this year. Asustek hopes to sell 30 million total next year.