Misty had a hell of a ride. After raising $11.5 million from Foundry and Venrock and then crowdfunding its personal robot, the company faced a series of challenges. Today, the Swedish social robotics company Furhat robotics is offering the beleaguered startup a soft landing in what the Swedish company says is a cash deal. Furhat is tight-lipped about the financial details of the deal, but tells Ploonge that the acquisition is designed to give Furhat an edge on the hardware side, allowing it to leverage its social robotics software on new platforms.
THE curiously called Furhat Robotics is planning to keep Misty Robotics’ Colorado home as a base for its US operations, and is retaining eight of the company’s most senior employees while finding ways to integrate the two technologies.
“We’re keeping the senior team; the head of operations, engineering, business development and senior software developers are joining us,” says Furhat Robotics CEO and co-founder Samer Al Moubayed. “Misty did a great job building a very scalable production operation, building the products by a known partner in China.”
The companies claim they are operating from a “unified vision” and say Furhat Robotics will continue to support the Misty Robotics brand, help develop and expand the product range, as well as integrate Furhat and Misty features to enhance future social robots. .
“Acquisitions in the world of social robotics are very rare. This might be the first time this has happened in history, actually. It’s just a very early stage of the industry,” says Al Moubayed. “This company spun off from Spiro. What’s very unique about the robot is that it may look like a toy, but it’s very friendly, very approachable. And yet it is extremely advanced. What Misty Robotics has achieved is putting the best technologies available in the world into a very nice robot.”
Furhat’s team suggests that their own product — a robot with an animated face projected onto the back — is great for social robots that need to have an adult personality, such as airports, train stations, or medical applications. What Misty adds to the mix is something that is much more extensible and can be more expressive with her little arms and facial expression. However, Furhat’s team explains that while the two robots look very different, they also have a lot in common.
“For us, Misty is the missing piece. This helps us access a larger market with a focus on education, for example,” explains Al Moubayed, exploring how the acquisition came about. “The technologies are very similar, but Misty is great on the hardware front and we are very strong on software. Instead of building a new robot for educational use, Furhat decided to start looking for another solution.”
“Furhat Robotics is a true pioneer in its field,” commented Misty Robotics Founder and Chief Product Officer Ian Bernstein. “We are joining forces to bring the future of robotics applications into the present and the combination of our specialties means that we will see even more incredible real-life applications of this amazing technology in the near future. Social robots are already playing a significant role in our lives, and when applying our combined experience to solve real-world problems, the sky really is the limit.”