The Kinect phenomena highlights the market for low-cost sensors and also the ingenuity of the world of roboticists and hackers taking advantage of these breakthroughs.
iRobot’s AVA – an inexpensive mobile platform connected to a two-way vision tablet – is going to help and is partnering into healthcare and other fields with it’s AVA robot. Other vendors (Vgo, Luna, BiliBot, etc.) also making inroads with low-cost telepresence robots.
The use of series elastic actuators changes the whole approach to manufacturing robots. Besides being cheaper, robots are able to safely interact with people thereby ridding the necessity for a “cage.”
Open sourcing and app store concepts (e.g.: RoboEarth) are taking hold in the robotics world as Apple has pioneered and others are following in the computer and communications world.