Founded by researchers from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, Furhat is building machines with “social intelligence” that resemble human personality, gesture, and intonation. The human-like robot face, which is a 3D projection, mimics human expression and is built on a software platform, or its “brain”.
The long-term goal of the technology is to create a new interface between humans and tech.
“We believe social robotics will be as disruptive as the smart phone or the PC, and we are at the very early days of a technology that will allow us to interact with machines in a more human like manner,” said Samer Al Moubayed, CEO of Furhat.
“Furhat can potentially be used in thousands of different ways. To enable Furhat as a platform, we are building an operating system for conversational robots, and we expect people will come up with amazing ideas and ways to use it that have the potential to disrupt many markets.”
The new funds will be invested in building out the technology and exploring use cases in education, therapy, and customer service as well as entertainment. The company is currently working with Swedish public services as well as companies like Honda, Intel, Merck, Toyota, and KPMG to develop apps on the platform.
The Swedish employment agency is using the conversational robot to prepare people for job interviews and to train teachers.
Honda is using Furhat to develop a conversational tool for the elderly in a smart home setting while KPMG is designing a Furhat-enabled financial advisor interface.
Furhat also plans to double in size by recruiting more engineers and PhDs to boost the development of the platform as well as hiring for the business side of things.
“As humans are beginning to get comfortable with one-step non-emotive voice communications with machines, we are excited to be supporting Furhat who are at the centre of the next jump in interaction,” said Daniel Waterhouse, partner at Balderton.