Why We Invested in Embodied: Meet Moxie

/ Jason Schoettler

At Calibrate we believe automation and robotics will increasingly transform our lives. Robots have built our cars for decades, but now our cars are becoming autonomous robots themselves, and we are getting used to seeing delivery machines on sidewalks and in the air. We are marching closer to a day when machines like C-3PO from Star Wars or Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation are no longer science fiction.

In fact, one robot is already connecting with humans in a way we never thought possible: Moxie from Embodied. Calibrate led Embodied’s $22 million Series A in 2018 and invested in a follow-on round in March 2020. Moxie is the world’s first animated companion for children designed to help promote social, emotional, and cognitive development through everyday play-based learning. Already, before the pandemic, families were eager to find new tech-inspired ways to help their children learn empathy and connection. But since schools closed for millions of children a year ago, demand for Moxie has gone through the roof, with over 10,000 families joining the waitlist. Today, Embodied begins shipping Moxie to all these excited customers. We’re thrilled to see years of research and development led by Embodied CEO and Founder Paolo Pirjanian come to fruition in the most incredible example of human-robot interaction (HRI) we’ve ever seen.

We believe animate machines like Moxie will soon become part of daily life.

The way we get from where we are with automation today—still mostly typing and talking to smart speakers—to the bold new future requires a social operating system that incorporates understanding far beyond just language and voice tone. Robots will need to understand nonverbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language, and communicate using these all-so-humane methods as well.

We believe the potential of future machines in our society is governed by how we interact with them.  

We humans are social and emotional creatures, and we embrace and yearn for social interactions and interpersonal connections. The distancing imposed by the pandemic has only underlined our innate need for human connection.Thrust, the more seamless and natural our ability to communicate and interact with machines, the more adoption we will see into society.

We believe in the power of technology to address some of society’s biggest problems.  

How do we as a society care for the elderly among us, keeping them safe and healthy, emotionally connected, intellectually stimulated, socially engaged, and physically active? How can we support children in their emotional, cognitive, and social development in a world where they spend the majority of their lives on screens? There are no easy answers to these questions, but we believe animate machines can and should be part of the solution. For robotics entrepreneurs building the next great robots, getting the human-robot emotional connection and social interaction right is the key.

We believe we’re on the cusp of a new category of technology we call animates.

The robots of the future won’t just perform automated tasks but will interact with human beings in a natural give-and-take. Animates are a new category of robots that are socially aware and exist to help and benefit humans. Unlike Alexa and today’s other voice-activated robots, animates bring altruistic emotional development and companionship to humans, complimenting human-to-human relationships and benefitting society at large.

We first invested in Embodied back in 2018 and have supported them all along their journey since then because Paolo and his exceptional team are on a bold mission to build a social operating system for machines to interact with humans. They are the prime-mover in a new category of social machines and Moxie is an absolutely stunning technological and societal achievement. We’re thrilled to see Moxie rolling off the assembly line and into families’ homes—and hearts—and are proud to have partnered with Embodied since day one.