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.