September 13, 2012 in Advanced Manufacturing, ATDC News

Startup Chronicles: Tovbot

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Tovbot At a Glance

  • Founded: 2012
  • Co-founders: Gil Weinberg, Guy Hoffman, Ian Campbell, Roberto Aimi
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, GA
  • Specialty: Personal Robotics
  • Website:

Ever wish you had a robot maid like Rosie from The Jetsons to help handle cooking, cleaning and other housework? That pipe dream might soon become a reality if the founders of Tovbot have their way. The ATDC member startup is diligently working to foster in a new paradigm of personal robotic assistants – but these wouldn’t just clean your floors. They would also interact on a more personal level.  “In five years, we want to have Rosie the Robot. We want to deliver the most advanced personal robotics products to hit the market,” said co-founder Ian Campbell. “And we think we can get to that point in a very short time using cloud computing and advanced smartphone-enabled technology.” Tovbot was formed earlier this year by a group of robot researchers and entrepreneurs hailing from Georgia Tech, IDC Herzliya in Israel, and MIT Media Lab. The concept, however, arose during a discussion between two other ATDC member companies in spring 2011. After meeting to discuss touch technology in robotics, Campbell – who is COO and founder or NextInput – and Gil Weinberg of ZooZ Mobile decided to join technological forces to create a personal robotic device. Fast forward more than a year and the young startup has unveiled its first product – a cute, dancing robot called “Shimi” that taps into smartphone technology to play music and pick songs based on your taste or mood. Weinberg’s brainchild, “Shimi” contains multiple motors that help it wag its arms, head, and feet and even react to humans using advanced facial and speech recognition algorithms. The program also “senses” beat based on clapping and can find matching songs automatically. To showcase the Shimi innovation, Tovbot was selected to participate in this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco as a contender in the Startup Battlefield, where it has been drawing significant audience attention. In addition, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched for the project – pledge $149 to get your own robotic DJ to be shipped out later this year. “The reaction has been really phenomenal, with lots of people asking when Shimi will be available and when they can buy one,” said Campbell. “We’re already at 20 percent of our (Kickstarter) fundraising goals, so it speaks to the market validation of this product.” In the next few years, Tovbot wants to use the technology for other task-related applications. “We hope to make not only musical robots, but robots that can help you in the kitchen or around the house – preparing recipes, folding clothes, doing other chores,” said Campbell. “That’s the future we see.”

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