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Now Shipping! The robot that doesn't roam; KUBI ditches the wheels for stronger interaction
December 19, 2013 -- Revolve Robotics Co-founders Marcus Rosenthal and Ilya Polyakov believe that their KUBI video conferencing robot is part of a new generation of devices that will change the way we interact remotely.
KUBI is now shipping to Indiegogo Backers and available to the public through Revolve's website (www.revolverobotics.com/get-kubi/). It is a simple device compared to the growing number of telepresence robots on the market in that it focuses on enabling a remote person to look around rather than roaming capability. The majority of roaming telepresence robots are costly, require robust IT infrastructure and run on proprietary software that limits interoperability, but KUBI is designed to be a more functional and affordable tool for video conferencing.
Standing about 12 inches tall and similar to a wine bottle in shape, the motion controlled stand works like a "neck" for your tablet. "KUBI means 'neck' in Japanese," States Marcus. "With your tablet placed in the dock and connected, you can log in over the web and pan and tilt the tablet camera to look at whatever you want during a video call". The robot features adjustable arms that fit an array of tablet sizes, and connects wirelessly using Bluetooth 4.0, making it compatible with the majority of current tablets being manufactured. By leveraging the capabilities of tablets for the video conference, it allows users to make calls using their preferred video client rather than being tethered to proprietary software.
"The robots getting the most attention are roaming robots," Says CTO and co-founder Ilya Polyakov. "But we don't see driving a robot around as an important part of the telepresence experience. Doing some research and talking to people who are using these types of robots, we learned the value isn't in roaming ability, but rather the ability to look around and interact with multiple people in any setting. KUBI helps you project your intentions and interact face to face without becoming a burden or a distraction, and because we didn't add wheels or a navigation system, it is a fraction of the cost".
Most telepresence robots are expensive, primarily due to their roaming capability. The perk of being able to navigate a robot around the office will cost users somewhere between $2500 and $100,000 depending on the system. Targeting small to medium sized businesses and consumers, KUBI is comparatively affordable at $499. Users will also need to own or purchase a tablet to run the video conferencing software.
KUBI is garnering significant interest from a variety of customers, some of whom ordered development models and have been testing them since as early as January 2013.
"The effectiveness of the face-to-face ability of KUBI adds a deeper dimension to the coaching my clients receive." Says Nathan Gold, founder of Demo Coach. "People tell me that using Kubi for the video conference was one of the most effective technologies they have seen in a long time".
"Ramping up production requires a lot of hands-on support from the engineering team," Says Ilya. �"We designed the tooling for the injection molds ourselves, and we are sourcing parts locally for quick turnaround. Doing everything here in San Francisco gives us direct control over manufacturing, and having the production process figured out in advance will make it easier to scale for larger orders in the future".
Manufacturing in San Francisco has helped them avoid major setbacks and begin shipping KUBI despite budget constraints. But like other hardware companies, Revolve has experienced their share of unexpected delays. "Developing KUBI has taught us a lot about managing expectations and especially customer relationships," Says Marcus.
KUBI is shipping beyond the initial prediction of May, 2013 posted on Indiegogo. According to Marcus, however, the customer response has been overwhelmingly positive.
"We were getting inquiries almost daily from backers wondering when their KUBI would ship," adds Marcus. "We've done our best to respond honestly and make them feel invested in the process. We have formed some solid relationships this way and even generated additional orders. I've been amazed at how loyal and excited people are to be getting a KUBI."
Revolve is currently offering KUBI for purchase directly from their website, and is in the process of securing distribution to resellers throughout the United States. To purchase a KUBI for $499, learn more about KUBI or contact Revolve Robotics to schedule a demo, visit the Revolve website at: www.revolverobotics.com
About Revolve Robotics
Revolve Robotics was founded in March 2012 by Marcus Rosenthal and Ilya Polyakov, robotics industry veterans with over 25 years of combined experience. The mission of Revolve Robotics is to create robots that facilitate people's ability to create and collaborate on things that matter. Revolve Robotics is about smart, simple solutions to real problems, timeless design, and an elevated level of practicality and functionality. Revolve Robotics joined Lemnos Labs hardware incubator in September 2012 and currently works out of their space in San Francisco.
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