After acquisition, Misty Robotics turns to education – TechCrunch
In 2018, a struggling Sphero needed a change. After Disney’s intellectual property deal, life hadn’t been easy for the Colorado robotic toy company, so it turned to a potentially lucrative new industry: STEM education. History, as Mark Twain may or may not have said, rhymes. The source of the quote is uncertain, but the truth is extremely applicable in the startup world, as Sphero spinout Misty Robotics undergoes its own educational pivot.
Misty is one of those cool ideas that never managed to find a complete purchase. After a few years of looking to sell its adorable little robotic rig to software and hardware developers, the company was finally acquired by Swedish company with the odd name, Furhat. The two teams were talking about a “unified vision” when the news was announced in January, and this product relaunch is apparently the first step towards achieving that.
“There has always been great synergy between Furhat and Misty and with this launch you can see how that is going,” Samer Al Moubayed, co-founder and CEO of Furhat, said in a statement. “We’ve updated Misty’s conversational capabilities with a focus on natural language understanding and conversational skills. We also believe that social bots need to reach a much wider sector of society and make part of the education system to prepare the next generation of talent.Misty is specially designed to optimize learning and engagement, and has both an attractive and rich design, as well as highly advanced sensors and hardware, which makes it makes it unique in the market today.
This decision confirms something we’ve known for a long time: consumer robots are difficult. Even though the technology is taking off in a wide range of industries, from fulfillment to construction to healthcare, no one has been able to fully crack the code, aside from some robot vacuums. Misty and Furhat therefore naturally go where the money is: in particular, education and research.
The teams cite more intuitive development tools that use Python, combined with a drag-and-drop interface, as the key to opening up accessibility to more teachers and students. This is coupled with a new version of the robot SDK. Furhat is looking to expand Misty’s presence in the United States and her native Sweden, while targeting health researchers who are turning to social robotics as a method of working with patients with illnesses like the disease. Alzheimer’s and autism.