It’s no secret that robots have been big business in the consumer-facing market over the last several years. Robotic stars have led films like the “Transformers” series or “Pacific Rim” to major success at the box office, while a robotic crew played a huge role in filming current hit “Gravity.” On the other end of the spectrum, iRobot’s domestic service robots are continuing to demonstrate the significance of the still-developing sector they have helped to shape, while the automation of our homes and cars are also well on their way with more and more companies regularly jumping into the fray.
One consumer arena that doesn’t always make headlines, however, is also seeing an influx of robots – toys. The most visible recent example is no doubt Lego’s launch earlier this year of their reinvigorated robotic construction kit Mindstorms EV3. Thanks to the type of innovation and attention to consumer demand represented by the product line built up around Mindstorms, Lego has doubled its market share since 2008 and continues to gain ground relative to its primary competitors, Bloomberg reports.
It’s not only multibillion-dollar conglomerates leaping aboard the robotic wagon, however – one of the newest potential entrants to the market, Motiph Robotics, is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to back the Moti, a smartphone powered “smart motor” that doubles down on belief in the penetration of technological interest and ability in toy consumers.
The Moti is a “smart” microcontroller-driven motor that can be attached to a variety of everyday objects and then controlled through an intuitive graphical interface on a smartphone. It is intended as product with an exceptionally low barrier to entry, but a high ceiling for more advanced applications, as a number of videos on their campaign page show. As the company puts it, “What if making a robot was as simple as snapping motors together and having instant control from a browser? That’s the idea behind Moti. Simply attach Moti Smart Motors to anything and use our graphical app to bring your creation to life…presto, instant robot! At the same time Moti is advanced enough to satisfy makers and developers building complex machines.”
While Moti itself may well fall victim to the vicissitudes of whim that make Kickstarter such a fascinating investment sandbox – they’re currently about $15,000 CAD toward a goal of $165,000 CAD with 10 days to go – the fact that it represents just one of a healthy stream of new robotic “toys” seeking to take advantage of what’s seeming more and more like a permanent niche in the consumer market indicates just how much potential this sector might have.
[ photo courtesy of Motiph Robotics ]