‘Where’s WALL-E’ by Richard Sargent / Geekings Cards. Buy this poster.

Today, I join the team at Misty Robotics—a team with an audacious goal: to put a robot in every home and office. That’s a lot of robots. And before we can get there, robots will have to prove their value in societies, companies, and families.

Plenty of robots are already in our homes and offices. We use them every day. Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and yes, even Bixbyare examples of headless robots that you can speak with and of which you can ask questions. We’ve had Roombavacuuming our floors and we’ve got drones that follow us and take our pictures. There are sightings of telepresence robots, robo-security guards, and autonomous greeters and tour guides patrolling silicon valley offices, malls, stores, and real estate. There will be a robot carrying the torch at the next year’s Winter Olympics. Saudi Arabia is learning there are consequences for robot-related publicity stunts:

So of course…the robot to which they “granted citizenship” is now advocating for more rights for the real women of Saudi Arabia.¹

And, of course, we all know robots are coming for our jobs and our cats, apparently. Robots are here.

* The reason many of us remember the show so vividly is that it had a second wind and ran again from 1985 to 1987. See, you’re not that old.

The problem: Rosie is not.

Our current crop of robots are fairly one-dimensional. Some can answer simple questions. Some can vacuum your rug. Some can take your picture, but none spark our imagination. None bring about visions of the future we saw way back in the 1960’s with The Jetsons. 1960s*.

That’s where Misty comes in. If we don’t want homes full of single-function robots zooming and whizzing around, we need to create robots that can do more. We need robots that can multi-task. That can prove their worth as a valued member of the family. A personal robot.

To do this, a lot of work will be required—sparks of innovation will fly. But the timing is nearly right. And we’ve got a good team—spiritually led by founder and Head of Product, Ian Bernstein, who has been building robots since his early days. He wants our robots to be something more and describes Building The Imperfect Beast, like this:

Like in all relationships, everyone has their quirks that make them unique. Their style, mannerisms, and vibe. Robots should be no different if we wish to make them feel more like a being than an object.

Founder and Head of Company, Tim Enwall recently described the following strategy when he laid out Misty’s Ten Year Plan:

Make the very best multi-purpose robots available to programmers and makers (a.k.a. dreamers, inventors, creators) and enable them over time to add tens of thousands of skills to make them eventually useful to office and home consumers.

This is the commitment to ecosystem creation and advocacy that we had in the early days of SmartThings and what truly set us apart. It is my aim to amplify this strategy with Misty and partner with external robotics enthusiasts and developers curious about robots to enable the era of the home robot—the personal robot—the era of Rosie.

Endnotes:

  1. This will be the last time you’ll see me link to anything about Sophia. Really the only thing intelligent about her is the promotional skills being brought to bear schilling for this artificial “intelligence”.