The AR-powered fighting MekaMon robot goes on sale at Apple Stores

After selling out of its initial run of 500, U.K.-based Reach Robotics scored a $7.5 million funding round to help it produce a more consumer-ready version of its battling robotics platform. Turns out VCs weren’t the only ones paying close attention to the company’s product: Apple has also been watching the company’s growth with keen interest.

Starting today, the company’s robotics will be available exclusively through Apple retail — first through its online store and then in physical locations beginning tomorrow. The deal is similar to ones Apple has struck in the past, as it has looked to promote hardware startups that make particularly compelling use of its own technologies.

With Reach, the synergy is pretty clear. MekaMon makes use of augmented reality to create battlefields for its real-world robot — a use case that’s in-sync with Apple’s aggressive push with ARKit and depth-sensing cameras.

“I demoed to [Apple] at GDC,” founder Silas Adekunle tells TechCrunch. “One of our investors set up a meetings and they loved it. At the time, I didn’t know they were going to announce ARKit. When I saw it, it made sense. It was the right direction.” Given the timing of the announcement, the current version of the robots don’t actually utilize ARKit, but the startup will be embracing the development platform in future interactions.

In spite of the limited Apple Store retail exclusivity, the robots are compatible with both iOS and Android, using phones to control the robots, display the AR landscape and sense the depth of the world around them. The robots themselves use Bluetooth to connect for battle or more cooperative gameplay.

They also are completely compatible with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app, so users can learn to code using the robots as a platform, customizing movement, animations and the like. Adekunle says the company plans to add additional Swift-based programming to the robots moving forward.

The robots are available today, just in time for the holidays, at $300 a pop.

Published at Wed, 15 Nov 2017 09:00:58 +0000