The quintessential home of the future, smarter than ever before, should and would have a smart robot scampering about. Perhaps doing all sorts of tasks that you probably just listed out in your head. The idea behind a home robot is that it has to be intelligent, good at interaction with humans and be responsive. Made by Mayfield Robotics, the home robot Kuri did all that, and a lot more. But alas, no more.
Mayfield Robotics has confirmed that production is now paused while they consider the options for the future. All pre-orders for the robot will not be fulfilled and the payments will be refunded to those who were looking forward to owning the cute robot for homes.
Kuri has always been a unique robot. It was neither positioned as a functional smart companion such as a robotic vacuum cleaner perhaps, and neither it would be able to do complicated tasks. The very intention of Kuri was to be another member of the family, to run around with your kids, read something out to them, react to your conversations and run around taking photos of your precious family moments. Yes, at a price tag of around $700 piece wasn’t exactly affordable, but it did pack in enough smartness. For instance, the sensors on Kuri’s head detected a gentle human touch, and that made Kuri react as a human child would. The camera located behind one of Kuri’s eyes would record 1080p Full HD videos, could even stream the videos to your phone and be your eyes and ears around the house. Kuri would even be able to tell you when it was happy, sad or just thinking.
Mayfield Robotics was launched in 2015 as an independent entity of the Bosch Startup Platform. The company, in an official statement says, “Typically, startups in the Bosch Startup Platform are integrated into existing Bosch business units, but after extensive review, there was not a business fit within Bosch to support and scale our business.” Simply put, the funds were drying up, and there was no new source on the horizon. The company goes on to say, “We don’t know what the coming months will bring. Regardless, we stand firm in our belief that the home robot Renaissance is just beginning, and it’s going to be amazing.”
This is perhaps indicative of a larger trend in the robotics industry, particularly for robots meant for homes and personal use. The cost of making these, and the cost of buying them, is perhaps the biggest challenge. This also comes at a time when artificial assistant platforms such as Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are becoming very popular.