So long, MekaMon. Reach Robotics, the company behind the customizable and kid-friendly spider robots, is closing its doors. In a LinkedIn blog post, co-founder and chief executive Silas Adekunle said the "consumer robotics sector is an inherently challenging space" and that the company, "in its current form at least," would not be moving forward. MekaMon, if you need a refresher, were gaming robots that battled each other and purely-digital enemies through an AR mobile app. The player's phone was both a controller and window into the otherwise invisible arena and blaster fire.
It was an intriguing concept that clearly never quite took off. Adekunle admitted on Instragram that the closure was due "to tough business circumstances." Fellow co-founder John Rees echoed this sentiment on LinkedIn: "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." It's not clear how the closure will impact the robots -- and critically, the app they rely on -- that have already been sold to customers. We've reached out to the team, based in southwest England, for clarification.
Reach Robotics isn't the first company to experience such difficulties. Jibo, a social robot designed to delight families, was decommissioned earlier this year. Anki, the company behind the energetic Cozmo and Vector robots, shut down one month later. Still, the industry has some survivors. Sphero is still selling educational robots, though its lineup doesn't include Disney and Star Wars-licensed products anymore. Furbies still exist and Sony has its ridiculously expensive Aibo puppy to keep Pharrell Williams and other superstar musicians company. There's also the adorable Lovot, which I fell in love with at CES (and is apparently on sale now in Japan).