Mr. Sneh Vaswani, Co-founder and CEO, Emotix
How it all started?
My co-founders Chintan Raikar , Prashant Iyengar and I studied at IIT Mumbai for five years and worked together on several path-breaking projects out of a garage-like space. That was the time we decided to start a company together and after spending months discussing on the plans, we finally settled on a completely new category withMiko, a companion robot for kids that can answer questions, tell jokes, ask riddles, and initiate conversations, all the while getting better as it interacts with the child. We were interested in solving a documented consumer problem so the parent-child relationship caught our interest. The genesis is very interesting. We were in Bangalore while looking around to zero down on our business plan, and that is when we saw a mother screaming at her child about “leaving a game of Temple Run he was obsessed with”. An almost-three-hour conversation later, we figured that parents don’t want to cut out children completely from technology, but needed “a trusted gateway of technology for kids that caters to their learning and development needs. It was this experience which ignited the vision of a companion robot for children manifested through Miko.
Miko’s first prototype was picked up by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani’s EkStep Foundation in Bengaluru who saw Miko evolve from a white board concept to an actual product. Thereafter, we got some angel investments in 2016 followed by YourNest Venture Capital and IDG Ventures infusing pre-Series-A funds with which we were ready with a go-to-market version that could be scaled. Rest is history. Miko has received an overwhelming response and was not only picked up by urban consumers but also by schools in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Today, Miko2 is available at more than 300 touch-points including online and offline stores and has been registering a robust monthly growth rate.
What’s your future plan with Miko
Our target is to see how we can make Miko and its subsequent versions a household name. For example, Miko2 (the current version) offers the options for the child to interact in Hindi and Hinglish. The evolution will be contiguous going into Miko 3, Miko 4, essentially a ten-year pipeline.
Role of Ai
AI makes a lot possible. For example, Miko 2 can see, hear, sense, express, talk, recognize faces, remember names, identify moods, initiate a conversation and learn from its own environment to intuitively develop a bond with the child.
The features which differentiates Miko from other products is that it can identify the child’s moods but also adapt to their personality. Miko 2 can also hear through active noise cancellation microphones and has edge sensors that saves it from falling off edges such as tables and stairs.
Tell us more about Miko 2
India’s first and very own companion robot Miko which was the first product developed by the company about a year back, got a shiny new makeover with Miko2 introduced in the market in January 2019. The changes are not just cosmetic but remarkable in several ways. Miko 2 can see, hear, sense, express, talk, recognize faces, remember names, identify moods, initiate a conversation and learn from its own environment to intuitively develop a bond with the child. In terms of operation, while the 1.0 version (Miko1) required a smart phone to operate, the new version requires a one-time Wi-Fi set-up to be done through the Miko 2 app by the parent, post which, the child can talk with the robot directly through voice commands. Miko 2 sports a new HD camera that does face recognition, can hear through active noise cancellation microphones and has edge sensors that save it from falling off edges such as tables and stairs. Miko 2 comes with a “Time of Flight” sensor that enables the robot to better sense the surroundings and make decisions likewise. In addition to all the upgrades, the product now has a better battery life and improved display and sound quality.