CES 2018 has given rise to a remarkable number of robotic innovations – some better than others -and Misty Robotics is at least one of a few new companies that sought to use the event as a launch platform. Technically speaking, the robotics firm actually got its start last May, when it managed to raise $11.5 million in funding as a spin-off from its parent-company Sphero. Setting that aside, Misty Robotics decided to open up at the year's largest technology gathering to unveil a developer-geared robot dubbed Misty 1.
By all accounts, as shown in the images below, Misty 1 is a cute bundle of metal and components that would certainly be popular among those who could afford it if it were to hit the market. On the user-facing side of things, it features a small boxy body that rolls around on a tread system. Misty also has a 4.3-inch screen, embedded on the forward facing side of its head, which is all but completely filled by a pair of enormous expression-capable digital eyes. There aren't any arms or other appendages to speak of, which is moderately disarming and all of the outward features really add to the "cute" factor mentioned above. On the technological side, Misty 1 features an array of components just begging to be put to good use by developers. Around the back of its body, there are USB and serial ports for expansion and programming and it has a total of four sensors for obstacle avoidance to assist with movement – three along the front and one at the back. The front of the body houses a speaker and RGB LEDs. Meanwhile, the bulk of computing and processing fittingly takes place in Misty 1's head, which holds two Snapdragon series SoCs, light sensors, three far-field microphones and an HD camera to help the robot recognize faces and objects. However, it doesn't appear as though this particular version of the robot is ever going to hit the market at all.
According to the company, that's because Misty 1 is a dedicated developers-only machine. In fact, the company only plans to dole-out 50 of the hand-built units in total and anybody interested in buying one will need to go through an application process. It's a similar approach to one Google took several years ago with its Google Glasses Explorer program. To obtain a Misty 1 Developer Edition, applicants will need to show that they will have enough time and the requisite skill set to work with the platform and that they are comfortable working in direct collaboration with Misty Robotics' own team. If a given developer manages to pass through that process unscathed, they'll also need to have $1,499 on hand to pay for it. The good news is that Misty Robotics plans to start shipping Misty 1 out at some point during February of this year. Better still, the company has plans to launch Misty 2 – with enhancements based on developer feedback and the possibilities presented by what they come up with – at some point this year.