You probably know Sphero best as the company that turned Star Wars’ lovable BB-8 droid into an awesome connected toy, capable of investigating your surroundings, as well as recording and screening holographic messages. It later followed this cute Star Wars bot up with connected toys based on the Cars and Spider-Man franchises, as well as the excellent Force Band.
Well, it seems that smart robots are too big a sideline for the Boulder, Colorado-based Sphero to support on its own. The company has announced plans to spin off its advanced robotics division as a new startup called Misty Robotics. To that end, it’s secured a whopping $11.5 million in financing from Venrock and Foundry Group to hire new talent and develop additional products.
“Sphero, a company well-known for its toy robots, has been working on a personal robot for home and office in stealth mode for the past 18 months,” Tim Enwall, CEO of Misty Robotics, told Digital Trends. “It was time to create a stand-alone company that can be 100 percent focused on developing the product and bringing it to market. The two companies will have a close relationship, but it was time to separate.”
Sphero and Misty aren’t sharing more information than that right now. In its correspondence with Digital Trends, Enwall interestingly used singular rather than plural vernacular to describe plans. Unless we’re reading way too much into it, that suggests the company wants to go beyond creating a range of licensed robots and focus on building one, more fully realized home robot. At least, we hope so.
We’ll even go further out on a limb and suggest it’s the little guy from the picture at the top of this post.
Enwall said we can expect the company’s big debut product to launch in 2018. “Misty will have more news about the platform later this year, so stay tuned,” he said.
Given that, so far, the closest thing we’ve gotten to a genuine mass-market home robot is iRobot’s Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner (and that doesn’t look anywhere near as humanoid as the robot that Misty is teasing), it will be intriguing to see how well it can crack this market.