Internet of Business spends five minutes with Armen Gharabegian, founder of LA-based IoT start-up ShadeCraft, to discuss the company’s solar-powered autonomous robot Sunflower.
What does ShadeCraft do?
ShadeCraft is a Los Angeles-based technology company dedicated to creating robotic objects that improve the way people live outdoors. Utilizing its patent-pending technology, ShadeCraft’s first product, the Sunflower, is the world’s first autonomous robotic shade that tracks the sun, connecting consumers to the internet of things and the smart home ecosystem from outdoors.
How does the Sunflower work? What is its purpose?
The Sunflower is based on the concept of biomimicry, an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. As its name suggests, the Sunflower follows the sun’s azimuth for optimum solar retention, while providing maximum shade. The Sunflower is also equipped with on-board AI and is a smart home connectivity hub, able to stream music from smartphones, charge them, communicate with Amazon’s Alexa and act as a home surveillance device via its integrated cameras.
How did you develop the product?
The initial inspiration for ShadeCraft was to develop products to make people’s lives more convenient outdoors. The Sunflower outdoor parasol was a natural progression of this idea, as it’s a straightforward way to introduce consumers to the concept of robotic objects coexisting in their environments, and it is also an iconic and memorable object.
Who is your target audience?
At present, Sunflower is geared towards consumers for residential use. However, in the future, there are plans to expand to commercial buyers, such as those in the hospitality sector.
Are there any pilot programs you can share?
ShadeCraft is developing products that help hospitality businesses create a more seamless and user-friendly interaction with consumers around outdoor spaces. We recently penned a deal with the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to work with the government there to offer training programs in robotics.
How is the company funded?
To date, ShadeCraft has successfully funded its seed round of $2M by private investors.
What are your future ambitions?
Our mission is to develop robotics to improve human life outdoors. That, to us, means going beyond leisure and into providing necessary connectivity and comfort to consumers while utilizing renewable energy. The Sunflower’s automation makes a meaningful impact on human life, and our plans for future products all revolve around that same concept.