Case Studies – Service Robotics
Tim Morgan (COO) & Rob Parkes (CEO), Service Robotics
"It's good to be building the team environment, the team ethos and collaboration – moving to the bigger office [in Future Space] is a good moment in our evolution."
Service Robotics Ltd is launching the UK’s first companion robot solution called GenieConnect®, to enable older adults to live independently in their own homes for longer. We caught up with Rob Parkes, Co-Founder and CEO at Service Robotics to find out more about their journey.
Tell us a bit about Service Robotics
Service Robotics began 3 years ago and received the first investment in August 2018. Tim Morgan (Co-Founder and COO) and Rob Parkes (Co-Founder and CEO) first met while working together many years ago. Both founders have engineering backgrounds and worked in large corporates, particularly in telecoms. Rob reminisces of their “Colourful international experience, living and working abroad". This experience across the globe has given them both a great understanding of international business, supply chains and technology.
After settling back in the UK, Rob and Tim came together to form Service Robotics, born from a desire to do something interesting, exciting and worthwhile. Both had family members that needed help living independently, and with their understanding of robotics and knowledge of what could be possible, they started exploring a robotics solution to the issue.
They discovered the Genie robot early on, and felt it was the perfect platform on which to build the software and service solution GenieConnect®.
Why is it important?
Rob says that “one of the most pressing problems society has is older adults and independence, as we all expect to live for longer”. Families are increasingly unlikely to live locally to their elderly relatives, and so the isolation of the elderly is growing - and sandwich generations (those with children and elderly parents to look after) are a well-understood pressure of this mega trend.
Healthcare systems can’t cope with our aging demographics and increasing expectations of independent living. The UK Government are targeting 5 more years independence for elderly (Part of their industrial strategy), and so the work at Service Robotics is important as it can help elderly to live in their own houses for longer independently.
Tell us about the Genie Connect Robot
“Our solution, Genie Connect, is a robot companion. For the first generation we’re supporting people at home with a circle of care, including family, friends, neighbours, and even care professionals. For example, if they are receiving domiciliary care support, Genie Connect will be one of the ways that they can connect with their carers – that’s the focus right now.”
The team are piloting up to 120 robots for the rest of this year with B2B companies who are interested in elderly care, such as domiciliary care providers and retirement complexes, to aid their operations. Commercial launch is set for early 2021.
“Building a system ready for pilot that works on voice command is one of our biggest accomplishments. In the eyes of the user this is not a piece of tech – the user feels comfortable talking to the robot.”
Tell us about your journey at Future Space
Service Robotics joined Future Space in August 2018 when they received their first investment. The team were looking for a small office and dynamic tech environment. They made full use of the facilities and opportunities at Future Space to allow them to start the business. This has included working with four other companies in Future Space for project management, financial services, software development, and security purposes. They even managed to furnish the whole office for £100 through the warehouse facility!
The team have just had a second successful fundraising round and the team is now growing, having recently moved into a bigger office at Future Space. Rob describes the move as “good to be building the team environment, the team ethos and collaboration – moving to the bigger office [at Future Space] is a good moment in our evolution”. Since joining Future Space in 2018, Service Robotics has grown to 5 permanent employees so far in 2020.
Having access to other areas, such as the Health Tech Hub (HTH) is a great advantage of this location. The team are also exploring a new MSc in Health Technology and looking at potential Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. “The expansion of the team has meant we are now able to explore these opportunities”.
Natalie, Intern at Service Robotics
"My internship with Service Robotics has given me professional experience I can put on my CV to stand out from the crowd. Not only did I get to continue expanding my marketing knowledge, but I also got to be creative while doing so. "
You recently took on a student intern from UWE – How has that been?
“It’s an undeniably useful programme” – Service robotics has taken on interns twice, in 2019 and 2020. Both roles have been marketing & business. The most recent addition to the team has been Natalie Tranova, working as a summer intern from UWE. Natalie is supporting a range of activities, including analysing the market, business development, potential customers, and handling social media presence. The team say that it’s great to get help in areas that are important but time-consuming, desk-based work, and they will take on more interns in the future.
In fact, the team have been so grateful for Natalie’s help that they have offered to continue an extended internship paid for by Service Robotics when she is ready.
We asked Natalie how she has found the internship and she said - “My internship with Service Robotics has given me professional experience I can put on my CV to stand out from the crowd. Not only did I get to continue expanding my marketing knowledge, but I also got to be creative while doing so. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to see what the future holds for me!”
What does Service Robotics future have in store for us?
Rob says that the company has great ambition and they “..want GenieConnect® to enable older adults to have a cocoon of care and support and advice in their home, where Genie interacts with smart home systems and smart health systems (such as wearable tech) to not only monitor and alert when things go wrong, but also to predict and prevent incidents.”
In the first generation solution they are offering mood capture so the user can tell you how they are feeling, but in the future the team want to use AI technology in conjunction with cameras and other sensors to analyse facial expressions, gait, and vital signs, and correlate that information with databases to detect things like mood changes or likelihood of falls - and then to take action. Actions could range from playing favourite music, to alerting relatives, and other forms of human support. “We are moving from Passive to active intervention”.
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