Furhat Robotics: AI-service with a smile

Furhat Robot and Event Manager, Chris Wood

We were so glad when we heard that Furhat Robotics decided to be a part of The Park’s community. They bring so much joy to the co-office space but also innovation and a futurist mindset. So, who are they really and what is their success factor? You’ll find all the answers here in this article.

New recruits, birthdays, achieved goals, not a week goes by before the team from Furhat Robotics decide to celebrate something in our kitchen space on the third floor. They are one of the largest companies in our facility and their concept is most certainly out of this world – literally.

Even though their Event Manager Chris Wood had a lot on his table when The Park contacted him for this interview, he still managed to answer our questions. Most appreciated.

So Chris, what is Furhat Robotics?

We’re one of the fastest-growing social robotics and conversational AI startups in the world. Our goal is to build the first full-stack platform for social robotics to enable the growth of a new user interface, and an ecosystem of applications for social robots.

We have developed a physically-embodied robot called Furhat, which you could say is the face of the company. Furhat is a social robot that is designed to communicate with humans as we do with each other – by speaking, listening, showing emotion and maintaining eye contact. For those who have never seen a talking robot before, you can get a better understanding by watching a few videos of Furhat in action here.

When and how did you come up with this business concept?

The company (and product) was born out of a research project. Our CEO, Samer Al Moubayed, conducted his PhD in Computer Science and Speech Technology at KTH, way back in 2008. This is where the first robot prototype was created as a research experiment. Together with co-founders Gabriel Skantze, Jonas Beskow and Preben Wik, the evolution of Furhat has grown since then.

One of the most defining moments in the company’s history was when we were selected to present at the Science Museum in London in front of nearly 7000 visitors, in 2012. That’s when the co-founders really started to realise that there is interest in this technology and since then they’ve been working tirelessly to get Furhat Robotics to the market.

If you’re thinking, “why is the robot called Furhat?”, take a look here!

What would you say is your success factor?

From my point of view, I see success through the eyes of our customers. We have sold robots to the likes of Disney, Intel, Merck, KPMG, Swedbank, Deutsche Bahn, Honda & more.

Honda is using Furhat as a conversational tool for the elderly in smart home environments, Merck is using Furhat to develop cognitive training & rehabilitation aides for patients with multiple sclerosis & KPMG is working with Furhat to build the financial advisor interface of the future. These are just a few of the projects that companies are working on to revolutionize their industries.

It’s the success in these projects, and seeing how Furhat is making an impact in the real world, that really drives us forward.

How do you think that The Park as workspace and community can help your company?

We have only been at The Park for a short period of time, but we can already see the value of working in this space. Coming from humble beginnings at KTH, The Park offers us an amazing working environment with access to facilities we have never previously had, says Chris Wood and continues:

We have more than enough space to grow our team as we scale up. The Park’s team has been extremely welcoming to us and are always on hand to help whenever needed, something we value very highly!

If you had to describe Furhat Robotics with a song, which song would that be?

– It has to be Daft Punk – Robot Rock! 

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