In my 2014 predictions posting a few days ago there was something I cited that was going to be big in the coming year and one thing I forgot to mention. The one cited was crowd sourcing. Exemplified by Kickstarter, crowd-funding is the egalitarian way any or all of us can become angel investors in products and services we believe have legs. The one I neglected was actually something I have been thinking about since Google recently made an acquisition in the space setting off lots of speculation about its intentions, robotics.
The interesting thing is that you can start the New Year by getting your hands around both trends. Wall, NJ-based Five Elements Robotics has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its Budgee™ robot (see below) that you ought to check out. It will enable you to look at what some intrepid entrepreneurs are up to in what is sure to be an emerging market, and if you are not familiar with how crowd-funding works this is a nice way to find out.
Source: Five Elements Robotics (Budgee™)
If you go to the Kickstarter page for Budgee™, who currently has the tagline “The Friendly Robot That Carries Your Stuff,” you will see the stats for the campaign. Launched on January 2, 2014, when I checked in they already had 7 backers and a little over $4,000 on the way toward reaching the goal of $100,000 by the end of January.
With the cautionary note that I have no advice to provide as to whether this is something you should be interested in, and hence you are on your own to do the due diligence on this and make your own decisions about you wish to be a Budgee angel.
As part of that investigation process you should view the video on the subject from company CEO Wendy Roberts, and check out the utility of Budgee and see if you think based on its capabilities, including voice interactions and controllability via smartphones and tablets, if this is a fad or possible fast mover in nascent space.
It is too bad the term “personal digital assistant” has been overused and rests peacefully in the industry jargon waste disposal area. The depicted use of Budgee for those who have mobility challenges makes sense depending on price points and acceptance for coverage by insurance. The mass market and retail appeal of the roughly 20 pound and collapsible/cartable Budgee (who looks a little like the robot in the Disney movie Wall-E) remains to be seen. Price, ease-of-use, utility, security, liability, etc. all will play a role in its acceptance.
All of that taken into consideration, you have to at least appreciate that innovation on two fronts is off to an interesting start this year.
Why This Is Important: The campaign to fund personal helper robot Budgee™ highlights two major trends in 2014, crowd-sourcing and robotics. The Jetson era draws much closer.
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