On the latest episode of This Week in Startups, Ian Bernstein, former Co-Founder & CTO of Sphero and current Founder & Head of Product at Misty Robotics stops by. Ian introduces his programmable robot, Misty II, and we discuss the current state of generalized robotics, as well as more advanced functionalities that seem to be just around the corner.
Join us for a glimpse into the future of consumer robotics, AI, the brain-computer interface, and more 🔥.
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01:50: Introducing Ian Bernstein, former co-founder and CTO of Sphero and founder and Head of Product at Misty Robotics. Ian talks about founding entertainment robotics company Sphero, the high cost of marketing, more.
05:48: Ian explains how adding character, personality, and gamification to Sphero’s robots led to a Disney-sanctioned BB-8 robot.
15:05: Ian talks about the history of generalized robotics and and the inspiration to create Misty Robotics. He also covers lack of consumer readiness as a cause for market failure. He says companies like Amazon are paving the way for more advanced home robotics by building useful AI and familiarizing people with it.
29:00: Jason and Ian talk about marijuana use at work and the impact on productivity of getting into a flow or zone.
31:30: Ian says Misty I, the robot his company handcrafts in Colorado, is now available. Misty II will be available in December (on presale now through May 31). It runs $3.2k but it’s currently half off and TWiST listeners get another $100 off. Ian says one of the reasons Misty chose crowdfunding was to build a community, as, he says, most consumer robotics apps will come from third-party developers.
34:21: Jason asks when generalized robotics will expand from the hobbyist tinkerer space into useful functionality for average people. Ian says the tech required for general functionality is just now becoming affordable for consumers. Ian notes Misty will support Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa. Also has Arduino integrations. Ian and Jason talk about the power of having an assistant-equipped robot following you around. The pair discusses fun and practical applications.
44:52: Jason asks about Misty Robotics’ strategy in terms of funding, the pace of development, etc. Ian says that while hardware startups are still difficult because the development process is slow and requires several years of runway, investors are becoming more open to it right now. It’s very important to get the right people involved. He says Misty spun out of Sphero in order to focus specifically on home robots.
48:35: Jason lists a series of jobs, asking Ian which ones are best performed by a robot today. For jobs best performed by humans, he asks how long it will be before robots can take over. They discuss what’s currently (theoretically) possible and the importance of 100-percent functionality versus robots that can perform only some parts of a given process.
58:21: Jason asks about the state of robotic arm technology and notes the falling cost. Ian speaks about software improvements making lower-cost arms and hands more precise. Sensors and AI play a significant role in improving precision. Jason asks about advanced prosthetics and Ian talks about brain-computer interfaces for prosthetics and for home robots.
1:02:25: Jason asks Ian what robotics developments in the past year have impressed him the most. Ian says the space is accelerating quickly. Boston Dynamics’ engineering is incredible. The pair discusses applications for Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot.
1:04:28: Jason asks about Misty in schools. Ian says that in 15–20 years, robotics will be critical for young people coming out of college, so it’s important that children today have some introduction — the same way he was introduced to computers as a child.
Reminder to listeners to visit mistyrobotics.com/thisweekinstartups for $100 off the Misty II.