Profiles

Robots in life, not a dream anymore: Romotive brings robots into our lives


Akshay JainThe world has been dreaming of robots that can do something for them every day. Automation has been all over the industries since decades. Either robots are toys that don’t serve a purpose for all or are too expensive and can cost up to $5 million. Romotive, a startup company in Las Vegas, comes up with an amazing idea of making a robot that you can operate with your smartphone and are cheaper than the phone itself.

Romotive was founded by Keller Rinaudo, CEO, and his two friends. It has seen great success in past years since the company manufactured the first Romo. Romotive raised more capital than any of the other participants in TechStars’ Seattle program and is attracting interest of major companies like Disney, Mattel and Apple. It raised $1.5 million from angel investors like TechStars’ David Cohen and Dave Tisch, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and others. Romotive got an order of 2,000 robots from Kickstarter which were built and made ready to deliver by its team of nearly 20 members.

Companies have been selling robots that clean your floor, carry goods from one place to another in hospitals, warehouses and farms, but only a few of them have been successful on a mass scale. Recently, ReThink launched Baxter, an industrial robot to whom you can teach a task through gestures. Baxter can perform that task continuously with a higher productivity than a human working for the same amount of time. Romotive gives a new vision to the robotics industry by commercializing personal robotics. An article in Business Insider quotes Rinaudo, “A lot of them said iPhone robots were a bad idea and that we needed to pivot“; but the company’s investors realized that Romotive is revolutionizing how robotics is changing our world.

RomoThe inventors of Romo have turned the smartphone into a brain that powers a cute, blue-faced robot. Rinaudo said that he wants to place a robot in every household. Romo retails for just $149. Romo can be controlled like a toy car by an app on your Android, iPhone or iPad. Users can drive the robot around, change expressions, and make sounds that the animated face on the robot delivers. The best part is that you can control the little robot from anywhere in the world.

What can Romo do for you? A question to be answered by the first buyers of the product, who will get their Romos by January, 2013. The company representatives say that the product provides entertainment value to the customers. Customers can download apps to control the robot, play games, and talk to other people. The fact that the amount of time people spend on their mobile phones has increased and the tremendous rise in the sales of smartphones have proved that the company has nailed its market entry point. Another opportunity for the company to flourish is created by the open source software which allows developers to create their own applications and share them with the world.

The robotics industry requires high capital investment due to large manufacturing costs, employment of specialized personnel, and long-term marketing strategy. It can take a long time to see revenue. Romotive is attempting to cross these barriers. The company has tapped into a large existing market and fills the need of entertainment and fun for its target customers. This mobile device may end up as the maid, Rosy, from The Jetsons.

By Akshay Jain, who is pursuing his masters in Robotics System Development, graduating December 2013. “I have a passion for robots and I believe that good entrepreneurs can change how people see the future of robots!”


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