Sphero, the company behind the much sought-after Star Wars BB-8 robot, has announced that it has created a new company to develop personal robots for both the home and office.
The company, Misty Robotics, has bagged $11.5m in funding and, according to a press release announcing its formation, plans “to put a personal robot in every home and office”.
With early examples of personal robots now on sale, the technology looks to be the next major gadget category to enter our lives, performing tasks for us, helping to keep us safe and proving friendly and supportive interaction.
“We see tremendous opportunity for the personal robot market, and the creation of Misty Robotics will allow the new company to focus on these efforts,” said Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero.
While no details have been revealed as to exactly what these personal robots will look like, the company has said that it plans to initially release one robot, alongside a “collaborative ecosystem” for further robots to be developed.
“Soon robots will be a constant touchpoint throughout our lives, becoming commonplace and serving a variety of purposes that are very different than what exists today. We have a rough idea as to what this will look like from science fiction and glimpses of brilliance that have happened in this space,” said Ian Bernstein, co-founder and CTO of Sphero and head of product at Misty Robotics.
“My vision is for Misty Robotics to lead this charge toward delivering the future we were all promised. We’ve already started to build an amazingly passionate team of roboticists and are looking for more talent to help us build the future.”
At present the leader in the personal robot market is Pepper, a humanoid robot developed by Softbank-owned Aldebaran Robotics. Having been launched in Japan, Pepper has now found its way into some homes in the country, however is largely been marketed to companies as a greeter for stores and hospitals.
However, it is clear that if a personal robot can be developed that is within financial reach of the average consumer, it has significant potential to be a success. Pepper attracted significant attention when it was first announced, and other products have since been developed that have also proved popular.
Nevertheless, the market is undoubtedly young, and the killer product for the Western market has yet to emerge. If Misty can develop an engaging personal robot at an affordable price, they could become a leader in the field.