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In 2014, the idea that in just a few short years we would all be talking to intelligent virtual assistants in our homes may have seemed impossibly optimistic. But a confluence of impressive technology, deft marketing and perhaps a little zeitgeist-bump from Spike Jonze's film Her came together to make a sci-fi fantasy into reality faster than anyone could have anticipated. And this year, it's starting to feel like we've arrived at a similar pivotal moment in robotics. 

Long relegated to assembly lines, the last few years have seen increasingly capable droids taking over distribution warehouses, stocking store shelves and flying overhead. 

Even recent stumbles - a series of highly publicized self-driving car accidents, and Tesla's decision to swap out some automated manufacturing systems for old-fashioned human operators - feel more like corrections on the path to greater automation than a change of course. 

The next wave of robots are promising incredible dexterity, emotive personalities and, most importantly, the support of some major consumer tech ecosystems. And instead of lurking in factory shadows, they'll be in our homes, cooking our food and taking our selfies. 

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