Toy maker Sphero is starting a new company to put advanced robots in the home

 theverge.com  6/20/2017 3:11:41 PM   James Vincent
Sphero made the official BB-8 toy for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Photo by Ross Miller / The Verge

Sphero is best known as the creator of toy robots, including popular movie merch for films like Star Wars, Cars, and Spider-Man. But the company has grander ambitions than that: today it announced that it has spun off its advanced robotics division to create a new firm, Misty Robotics, with the goal of putting “a personal robot in every home and office.”

Misty isn’t sharing many details on what these bots will look like, and, according to a report from TechCrunch, the company’s first products will be targeted at the “hobbyist/maker market.” The image below supposedly shows “an early prototype,” although it’s not clear exactly what we’re looking at. Perhaps the head of a home hub bot, like the Kuri or the Jibo? It’s possible, though these bots are essentially glorified tablets-on-wheels, and their functionality has mostly been usurped by smart speakers from Amazon and Google. Misty has hinted its bots will be more sophisticated than that.

A promo image from Misty Robotics apparently shows a prototype bot.
Image: Misty Robotics

It’s clear, though, that Misty has big ambitions, and is going to be moving slowly toward building more functional home robots. In a press release, the company says that robots in the future will be “seen and treated as our friends, our teammates, and a part of our families,” and will perform “helpful tasks” as well as “interacting with humans in entertaining and friendly ways.”

Misty Robotics has raised $11.5 million in initial funding, and employs a number of former Sphero employees, including co-founder Ian Bernstein, now Misty’s head of product. Tim Enwall, who founded home automation company Revolv (before it was bought and killed off by Google) is taking on the role of CEO.

“Soon robots will be a constant touchpoint throughout our lives, becoming commonplace and serving a variety of purposes that are very different than what exists today,” said Bernstein in a press release. “My vision is for Misty Robotics to lead this charge toward delivering the future we were all promised.”

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