Reach Robotics is closing up shop

Reach Robotics, the company behind the spider-like MekaMon robot you might’ve seen on the shelves at the Apple Store, is closing down.

Billed as the “world’s first gaming robot,” MekaMon is part video game, part STEM tool. You could plop it down on the carpet and point your phone at it to battle virtual augmented reality enemies, face off against other MekaMon owners in multiplayer battles or build custom programs for the robot on top of Apple’s Swift Playgrounds.

Here’s a video we did on Reach Robotics a few years back:

Reach Robotics was founded in 2013. They released their MekaMon robot in November of 2017, just a few months after raising a $7.5 million Series A.

News of the shutdown comes from Reach Robotics co-founder Silas Adekunle on LinkedIn (as first noted by The Robot Report), where he writes:

The consumer robotics sector is an inherently challenging space – especially for a start-up. Over the past six years, we have taken on this challenge with consistent passion and ingenuity. From the first trials of development to accelerators and funding rounds, we have fought to bring MekaMon to life and into the hands of the next generation of tech pioneers.

Unfortunately, for Reach Robotics, in its current form at least, today marks the end of that journey.

It doesn’t sound like Adekunle is finished with robotics altogether though. In a public Instagram post, he notes that while “Reach Robotics is closing down today due to tough business circumstances,” he is “looking forward to sharing some exciting new ventures in the Robotics space in Europe and Education in Africa and the Middle East.”

Co-founder John Rees, meanwhile, writes on LinkedIn:

I’m still taking stock of it all but the short version is that it is true what they say – that “hardware is hard” and consumer hardware is even harder due to the reliance on the Christmas sales period.

2019 has been a fairly brutal year for consumer robotics. In March, Jibo, a social robot meant to be cheery and entertaining, personally delivered to owners the news of its impending shutdown with an oh-so-depressing shutdown speech:

“Maybe someday, when robots are way more advanced than today, and everyone has them in their homes,” said the robot, “you can tell them I said hello.”

Anki, creator of self-driving RC cars and the WALL-E-like robot buddy Cozmo, shut down in April.