Sunday, May 22

Loneliness Industry: Robotics, Social Networks, Cuddle Shops & More

There was a time when loneliness was considered a mental disease of a person with social anxiety. Then came a time when the porn industry capitalized on the loneliness of men and women. Now, with some altruism, loneliness is stuffed in a toy you can cuddle for self-care. As of August 2021, the loneliness industry is a thriving marketplace of robotics, social networks, cuddle shops, and more.

In 2018, the UK appointed Tracey Crouch as the Minister of Loneliness. Tracey said, “Nobody should feel alone or be left with no one to turn to. Loneliness is a serious issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds and it is right that we tackle it head-on.” In 2021, Japan’s PM Yoshihide Suga appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as the Minister of Loneliness. While Canada still deliberates on a strategy to control loneliness, Asia reports none.

According to the BBC Loneliness Experiment, young people in “individualistic” societies feel a lot more loneliness than old people in a “collectivist society.” The report’s findings are based on inputs from 46,000 respondents worldwide between 16-99 years of age. The study, carried out by the University of Exeter, University of Manchester, and Brunel University, accounts for higher loneliness in young people than older people.

So, you see, the Total Addressable Market (TAM) of the loneliness industry is scary huge. Every product, solution, care pillows manufactured by the loneliness industry address what venture capitalists love, a large market. While the Serviceable Available Market (SAM) comprises the older adults, the Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) is the young, lonely, and working population with money at their disposal.

The pandemic hunted down the world into unprecedented social isolation. It has been so stifling that markets decided to mass-produce humanoids. Remember the case of Sophia by Hanson Robotics arguing with Elon Musk? Hanson Robotics has informed the media about mass-producing robotics to address the demands of the mental health sector. Today, Hanson Robotics is doing a fundraising wherein you can buy Little Sophia for $149.

If you are not with a humanoid taking great care of you, maybe build a community? No, the suggestion is not that you join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, etc. The answer is Panion, an all-in-one community management platform that helps you grow, engage, and unite your community. You can embed Panion on your business website and facilitate a good community of your office employees.

Like, Panion, you also have the Amsterdam-based Niluk founded by a cognitive Neuropsychologist, Elena Köstler. Elena found it hard to answer why despite a dozen dating apps, it is so hard to find someone to go for a bike ride or to invite for a cup of coffee? So, Niluk is a social network app where you can buddy up with a ramen lover, set up a ramen-tasting business, do epic shit together, and be the ramen saint, thanks to Niluk.

Could there be days when you do not wish to think of the office, the community and would hate the mention of caregiving bots? Sure, so, for such days, the loneliness industry has got you the cuddle shop. When Samantha Hess thought of driving down on an experiment posting around her professional cuddle services, local authorities suspected it of prostitution. But Samantha nailed wide success with her all-cuddle minus sex strategy.

There can be hardly any coverage of the loneliness industry without discussing Japan. On the death of a lonely person, a six-year-old company based near Tokyo, the Tail Project, assumes cleaning the property and the disposal of the dead body. Client Partners, a detective agency in Shibuya, Tokyo, lends “friend” for $800 for 11 hours. A women-led startup in Minato-ku, Tokyo, Support one is ready to go any miles within Japan to make one happy.

Kakeai, another startup based in Minato-ku, Tokyo, helps employees vent their professional frustrations to rebuild- employee-employer relationships. Japan is probably the only rich country where money is the output of a culture that appreciates hard labor. And so, workplace burnout is common; concealing negative emotions about employers is the norm. In the loneliness industry, Kakaeai is a strategic fit to alleviate some stress.

The loneliness industry may primarily cater to the “young, lonely, and working population with money at their disposal.” The 2018 EU Prize for Women Innovators award winner Karen Dolve co-founder of the Norwegian startup No Isolation, has come up with KOMP has come up with KOMP to bridge the gap between the digital-savvy children and grandchildren and the analog elderly. 

India’s ISRO is getting ready to jump into the space tourism market and plans for an all-manned civilian space tour by 2022-2023. This news breaks as Jeff Bezos is ready for his July 2022 space trip. While it is a deeply admirable thing for Indian scientists to strive and keep India ahead of Modi’s face, but there’s no major product innovation in India in the loneliness industry. Yes, there’s definitely a boom in the mental health startups in India.

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