UPDATE 8/19 9:40 a.m.: After nearly over a month of smashing success on IndieGoGo, the Jibo team has extended its crowdfunding campaign until September 14. To date, the Weston startup has raised $1.75 million from more than 4,000 of backers. The extension is due to high demand for Jibo’s family robot, according to founder Cynthia Breazel’s statement to the Boston Business Journal. The more money Jibo raises via crowdfunding means the more robots the startup will have to produce and deliver to its backers who gave $500 by 2016. The next two years will be a telling time for Jibo as the company starts to fulfill orders and manufacture robots en masse.
UPDATE 7/23 11:00 a.m.: Just a week after launching its IndieGoGo campaign, Jibo has raised $1,079,612, blasting through numerous site records. The amount makes the robot-building startup’s original goal of $100,000 look like measly sum. All 1,000 Jibo Home and Jibo Developer Editions for 2015, which were offered in exchange for a crowdfunding donation of $499 and $599, respectively, have sold out. To keep up the fundraising effort’s momentum, the Jibo team added a new 500-count slew of Jib Homes due for 2016 for backers willing to pay $499. It’s safe to say that the company is going to be heads down and cranking to fulfill orders on all the promised Jibos over the next two years.
What’s almost a foot tall, connected to the Internet and can capture photos, keep track of schedules, relay messages and share interactive stories? Jibo, the “family’s first robot.”
Jibo (the company) was forged in 2013 by former MIT professor Cynthia Breazel. In the past year or so, Breazel has expanded her team and gathered a group of ex-iRobot, Netflix, Zynga and Turbine employees to work on turning the personable, at-home robot into a reality. This spring, the 10-person startup, which has offices in Cambridge and San Francisco, let loose that it raised a sizeable seed round in the single-million digits from recently rebranded local venture capital firm, CRV.
Though the company unveiled Jibo to the world on Wednesday, the gadget won’t actually be available until late 2015. The $499 robot has a cylindrical base and a circular screen that makes it look a bit like a futuristic countertop tablet. The startup claims that the Linux-powered robot can track people as they move around a room; its six built-in microphones allow it to respond to verbal commands, while its array of touch sensors make Jibo sensitive to touch commands.
If the notion of Jibo reminds you of a product from another Boston-area robotics company, it’s no coincidence.
As an MIT grad student, Breazel worked in the early 1990s alongside Rodney Brooks, iRobot co-founder and current co-founder and CTO of Rethink Robotics, on the creation of a socially adept robot, reports the New York Times. Since then, Brooks and his company have spun out Baxter, a stationary robot with an animated digital face, designed to collaborate with workers in the manufacturing industry. Jibo is similar, except its destined for the family home instead of the factory floor.
Breazel intends to take Jibo beyond chore assistance, however. She told BetaBoston that the robot could one day synch with connected homes to manage security and energy usage, as well as pull health-oriented information from devices like FitBits, scales and glucometers.
Jibo’s opportunity in the health space lends itself to the company’s freshly launched IndieGogo campaign, too. Donate $80 to the $100,000 campaign for production costs, and the startup will give a Jibo to Boston Children’s Hospital. To reserve your own Jibo when they hit the market, simply make a $99 deposit on the crowdfunding site.