Kirsty Marrs |29, April, 2022
EPIC met with Jake to ask all about Robotrik’s Journey with EPIC so far, and what the future holds for this EPIC Tech Start Up Company.
Robotriks is a Robotics focused research and development company based in Par, Cornwall. The company was set up in 2018 with the aim of applying state of the art technology, to various applications whilst not breaking the bank in the process.
Jake and Khaian, the co-founders of Robotriks who were both studying their MEng at the University of Plymouth, and engaged with EPIC, the ERDF funded programme as it offered a flexible starting route for the duo to go from graduates to entrepreneurs. The wished to develop their concept and ideas into something sustainable, and help people along the way too.
To them, it felt like that there was a big wall standing in their way, and EPIC seemed a more accessible route to making their business idea a reality, by having access to sector specific robotic support through EPICs Gabriel Aguiar, who connected Robotricks to relevant academics.
They applied for a feasibility grant to enable them to dedicate time to their idea and take the project forward. The idea that they are currently taking forward came from the EPIC stakeholder workshops in 2017, and has come to life through a fruitful partnership with Hannah Bradwell – who is currently studying her Phd at the University of Plymouth – who helped the team constantly explore solutions to the thoughts and pointers from care home research participants, gaining individual feedback and unbiased advice; what they honestly like and what is important to them.
Tackling the problem in a collaborate manner seems to be echoed in all types of eHealth creation, involving the people who will benefit from the final product in the design and finding out what they really want, guarantees that the product will be truly beneficial.
Robotriks are designing a social assistive robot, sometimes known as companion pets. The benefits of the technology are thought to be based on ‘pet therapy’ or animal-assisted therapy. However, introducing live animals into care homes can be problematic, with issues of health and hygiene, bites and scratches, animal unpredictability and of course, that they may favour some people over others. One such example of companion robots that is already available on the market is PARO, robotic seal developed in Japan and has been shown to reduce both agitation and depressive symptoms in older adults with cognitive decline, and reduce patient stress while improving their mood and relaxation.
But, PARO costs more than £5,000 in the UK, making him unaffordable for care homes and individuals. That’s where Robotriks come in, by designing a new affordable version for use for the many, but with features requested by those who will benefit the most. Crucially all of the mechanicals in COMPet have been designed to mimic nature – you will not feel batteries or mechanics as your stroke the pet and the moments will be fluid rather than classically robot! COMPet will appeal to all five senses, so that the ‘interactions feel as natural and social as possible’. There are endless possibilities, haptic vibration for purring, realistic sounds through a self-regulating audio modulator and a changeable ‘skin’. This not only addresses concerns of health and hygiene, as it is easily washable when accidents happen but also can offer fresh interaction for the residents by posing as a different creature.
Jake states that eHealth isn’t just about creating products that address a gap in the market, but making inexpensive solutions so that the technology can reach and be used by all.
We wanted to know what Jake felt about nourishing graduate talent within technology, with projects and schemes like EPIC. The key things that Jake highlighted to us was that he felt by providing supportive systems it removed the risk for new graduates and up and coming talent, and that it is key to harness this power as technology is evolving so quickly, and naturally the people at the forefront are graduates, who have had the chance to explore these innovations and materials within their studies. If we support them, they will create revolutionary big innovations that we can all gain from in future.
And looking to the future, where will Robotriks be? The dynamic duo have their sights set on continuing R&D work, and really making things happen. They will work to help others to create prototypes, which is important to stop people losing sight of their original idea, and create a pause for testing at different stages. This concept would lowering the threshold for developing an idea; It could cost a fortune to employ the people to work on the question mark, Robotriks can be tasked to support, sense check ideas and ultimately offer a feasibility check. Robotriks will offer guidance and options, testing different specs, cost prices and constructions, helping new techies to create a finished product, which may not the way the way they imagined making it originally, but they will have a listening ear and helping hand to make their concept a reality. We wanted to know who they can imagine working with and the answer was simple “anyone with an idea that has the passion to see that turn into reality”.
Within this business model, the team have hinted at the creation of apprentice posts, and when pressed Jake revealed that they would be looking for all sorts of expertise! The apprentice would be guided at first in the work they do, looking for example of CAD design, PCB or coding – to enable rapid prototyping. Knowledge on all facets enables quick efficient work and would add to the long list of skills that Robotriks already has in its armoury.
By assembling the right team, the bright talent in Robotriks are free to follow through on their own ideas too – at EPIC, we can’t wait to see what they develop up with next.