A Pittsburgh startup, Interbots, won a first prize of $25,000 for its plan to develop consumer robots that could help boost the social skills of autistic children in the inaugural RoboBowl venture competition.
Interbots was one of five companies to present proposals for next-generation robotics products or services in the health care and quality of life industries during the finals of the RoboBowl Pittsburgh competition at Carnegie Mellon University on Oct. 13.
The event was sponsored by The Robotics Technology Consortium, Carnegie Mellon University and the Innovation Accelerator. It was the first in a series of national “next-generation robotics” venture competitions intended to find and foster startup and early-stage companies seeking to develop products and services that address unmet and underserved market needs in targeted industrial sectors.
Interbots, founded in 2005, is a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. The company specializes in the design and construction of custom interactive characters – both physical and virtual – as well as control software, and interactive multimedia content. Its RoboBowl proposal focused on an affordable consumer robot and accompanying iPad/PC software that would allow therapists and parents to guide autistic children through activities that practice social referencing skills.
Another Pittsburgh company, TactSense Technologies, took second place and a $10,000 prize. A spin-off of the University of Pittsburgh, TactSense presented a novel tactile feedback system for robotic surgical systems. The other finalists, Bright Cloud International Corp. of Highland Park, N.J., Origami Robotics of Pittsburgh, and RescueBotics of Mountain View, Calif., each received $5,000 prizes.
Summaries of the finalists’ proposals are available at http://www.cmu.edu/qolt/Events/robobowl-pittsburgh/robobowl-pittsburgh-finalists.html
“We were pleased to be part of the National Robotics Initiative’s inaugural RoboBowl business plan competition that took place with the ‘Innovation Accelerator @ Carnegie Mellon’ event,” said John Pyrovolakis, founder and CEO of Innovation Accelerator. “These competitions will create new business ideas for commercial robotics applications, with other ones to follow in the areas of manufacturing robotics, infrastructure and environmental robotics, and education robotics.”
The judges for the final round competition were Pyrovolakis; Helen Greiner, president and CEO CyPhyWorks, president and CEO, Robotics Technology Consortium, iRobot co-founder; Nathan Harding, co-founder and CTO, Berkeley Bionics; Venetia Kontogouris, senior managing director, Trident Venture Capital; Rich Lunak, president and CEO, Innovation Works; Steven S. Martin, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska; and Frank DiMeo, vice president, Technical Staff, Physical & Biological Technologies Practice, In-Q-Tel.