Recently iRobot has been talking up a new division they are forming to create healthcare robotics:
This is significant because healthcare robotics is one of the areas where service robots will finally break through to the public eye.
In part this is about money. The United States, Japan, and Europe are in a financial crisis but are facing an even larger crisis. There simply isn't enough money to provide all the health care that is needed for the baby boomers in the next 20 years. Government planners are seeing trillions of dollars of trouble.
So the federal government is writing essentially a blank check to anybody who can provide significant cost reductions for elder and handicapped care. Think of it as an infinite pot of money. Robotics can be a big part of that, and every bit of robotics developed for healthcare has use in consumer, manufacturing, and othersectors. It's a multi-decade long opportunity to build the next high tech superstar industry.
iRobot naturally plans to be part of that, and they are very effective at working with federal grant agencies.