Is there a massive market for an adorable $700 home robot?
EghtesadOnline: Meet Kuri. Think of her as Amazon's Alexa surfing on a Roomba. Using a variety of sensors, she can deftly navigate around the clutter of your home. And with a built-in speaker, she can play your favorite podcast as she follows you around.
She can't talk, but she will answer questions, such as whether it's going to rain today, with a nod or a head shake.Those abilities feel pretty standard in the days of self-driving cars and artificial intelligence assistants, but Kuri's most impressive feature is this: She is just so cute. Watch the way her head perks up when I call her name. The way she wiggles and blushes at the words "I love you." I spent a recent morning with Kuri, and I found myself smiling more than I do with most of my human friends. When Kuri rolled up to my bedside to wake me up, I felt genuine joy.
According to Bloomberg, Mayfield Robotics co-founders Sarah Osentoski and Kaijen Hsiao are two of the brains behind this robot. The Ph.D. computer scientists met while they were working for the industrial conglomerate Bosch, which now funds the Redwood City, California-based startup led by co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Beebe.
Osentoski, who serves as Mayfield's chief operating officer, and Hsiao, the startup's chief technology officer, have spent a lot of time thinking about Kuri's personality. They brought in a contract animator from Pixar to design the way Kuri moves. They didn't assign Kuri a gender—they say consumers can choose whichever pronoun they wish—but they don't want Kuri to be called "it." That attention to detail shows in the prototype. The final product is set to ship next holiday season for $699.
Is there a massive market for an adorable $700 home robot? Maybe not. Then again, for parents with young kids to entertain, Kuri is definitely cheaper than keeping a dog or cat.