Travelmate Robotics is best known as a robotic suitcase. However, the company has truly innovated and disrupted the emerging “Internet of Things” (IoT) paradigm by redefining “smart” consumer products. There are five main aspects to Travelmate’s approach that position it as an emerging giant in consumer technology.
1. Travelmate Robotics Found a Way to Create Useful, Functional Robots
The problem with robots is that people seem content to praise robots because of what they are. They seem to think that the value proposition of “Cool, robots!” is enough to attract consumers, and, in some cases, it has been. Yet the majority of robots on the market are just toys. Travelmate has disrupted the market by creating a robot with meaningful use cases. A robot suitcase that follows you around as you try to make your connection is useful. A robot suitcase that you can charge your phone on is even more useful. The experience is like having a dedicated butler follow you around on a trip.
However, the Travelmate approach goes far beyond travel.
2. The Product Is Actually a Modular Platform
Travelmate likens itself to a revolutionary new technology that changes how things are done, instead of fulfilling one specific need. The travel-friendly suitcase robot is just the base. Because developers can create apps for it, and because it can be modified through these apps, the suitcase’s only limit is how you can apply it. While most traditional robots are simply toys, most “smart” gadgets are single-use consumer items that do one thing or a handful of narrow, adjacent things: The Fitbit tracks steps or activity, a smart light turns on or off, and a smart coffeemaker can start coffee when you are not there. All of these are products, not platforms. The creation of a new platform, compared to the creation of a new product, changes the game.
3. It Popularizes New Technology for “The Masses”
The introduction of the Travelmate means that this marriage of robots and the Internet of Things is available to the masses. For the first time, consumers are able to purchase a useful robot that also assists in everyday life. Most people can appreciate the idea of an extra set of hands or one less thing to worry about while traveling, so the Travelmate normalizes and popularizes robotics. It does this by implementing the Internet of Things, which is another major reason it has become a company to watch.
4. It Capitalized on the “Internet of Things”
The Internet of Things is a mixed bag. Some “smart” devices seem to have been invented solely for the sake of turning an existing product into a much more expensive one (Bluetooth toasters, or flip-flops, anyone?). As mentioned earlier, most robots are toys. However, the Travelmate approach has created a solution that will help many people and that is portable to other circumstances. It has utilized the IoT paradigm to create a platform that can evolve to fit users’ needs.
5. They Created a Consumer Robot That Was User–Friendly
One of the biggest failures in the IoT paradigm is that smart things are usually only hyper-specific or very hard to use. VR platforms have generally been failures because of their price and some of the expertise needed to use them. Travelmate’s approach is to create a user-friendly, yet powerful, implementation of robotics and smart technology.
Travelmate’s approach illustrates some of the best approaches to entrepreneurship. Travelmate did not reinvent the wheel. Instead, it created a canvas where new technology can shine. The future of robotics is something people love to daydream about, whether those dreams are utopian or dystopian. However, Travelmate shows us that the future of robots can be whatever we want it to be.
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Published December 23, 2018