Chinese startup’s latest lineup move around freely to monitor family, pets
Smart robot startup Enabot released two new products in the Ebo series of compact home robots, the Ebo Air and Ebo SE, on June 9.
The low-priced Ebo SE is sold in China at 699 yuan ($108), less than half the price of the Ebo S, its predecessor.
The latest Ebo models, designed with a focus on family safety, allow users to monitor people and pets at home, as well as converse with them. Able to move freely, they can also patrol rooms.
Their predecessors, the Ebo S and Pro, were the first generation of the series, developed to monitor pets. Funds for the project were raised through the U.S. Kickstarter crowdfunding site, where it was posted at the end of 2019. It garnered support from 2,500 people in just a month, and the robots eventually sold over 10,000 units, defying the growing impact of COVID-19 at the time.
The latest models received a significant makeover in terms of their product positioning and design to better address market needs. While the design concept remains the same, the new models’ size has been increased and their internal structure was redesigned.
Functions that were not used frequently in the previous models, such as expressions made by LEDs and the « clothes-changing function, » were scrapped.
Although makers of electronic devices are suffering from computer chip shortages and higher prices, Enabot managed to reduce the new products’ prices to half those of previous products. In explaining the factors for this, Enabot cited its superior supply-chain management, which allowed it to secure materials early in anticipation of a deteriorated supply situation. The company also said it was able to offset increases in costs by rationalizing the robots’ design.
While the first-generation Ebo models were targeted at 20- to 40-year-old pet owners living in major cities, the new models are focused more on home security, whose market is larger. The home security market, where products such as Amazon’s Ring camera-equipped door phone and Cloud Cam surveillance camera are already available, is nearing maturity.
But as the new Ebo models’ prices are in a range occupied predominantly by fixed surveillance cameras, Enabot expects they have the potential to become a new option for consumers, especially given the appeal of their ability to move around freely. The company said it will step up a marketing push to make potential users aware of the Ebo’s advantages.
The low-cost Ebo SE can monitor rooms while moving around yet avoiding obstacles, and notifies the user through a smartphone app when it detects suspicious activity. It allows users away from home to remotely converse with family members and talk to pets.
When the batteries get low, the robot automatically returns to the dock to be charged. Using another app, users can edit video taken by the robot and share it with other people.
In addition to these functions, the Ebo Air can recognize different types of objects and follow people, dogs and cats. Its artificial intelligence mode allows it to automatically capture people and pets in video and daily share short movies that it automatically edits.
Founded in 2018, Enabot has staff experienced in the development, design and commercialization of consumer robots. The company has raised funds in three rounds. Most recently, it raised several tens of millions of yuan ($3 million to $5 million) from Sequoia Capital China and Longfor Capital in a Series A funding round this year.
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