Around a decade ago at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), classmates Sneh Rajkumar Vaswani, Chintan Subhash Raikar, and Prashant Iyengar were involved in a project to build intelligent underwater vehicles for the India Navy and the oil and gas industry. In the process, they developed a knack for artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

That culminated in their setting up of emotix in 2015, and this startup has now developed Miko, India’s first companion robot. Miko, weighing around 750 grams and standing a little over a foot, engages, educates, and entertains children above the age of five.

Besides talking to and playing games with the kids, Miko is also equipped to answer basic questions related to general knowledge and academics. An AI-based robot developed in association with an in-house team of engineers, mathematicians, artists, and neuro-psychologists, Miko goes beyond speech interface to respond to non-verbal cues like motion and physical gestures to incorporate emotions as well.

On April 25, the Mumbai-based startup with 35 employees secured $2 million (Rs13 crore) in a funding round led by IDG Ventures India and Haryana-based venture capital firm YourNest. The funds will be used for research and development (R&D), new product development, and global expansion.

emotix’s founding trio spent over two-and-a-half years running 22 pilot tests before finalising their robot. “Miko is an outcome of extensive research throughout the country, particularly to identify the unmet needs of parents, of children, their unspelt expectations, which translated into all the features that come bundled with the robot today,” Vaswani, CEO of emotix, told Quartz. Read more from…

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