After launching innovative Disney collaboration, robotics company continues its bold growth strategy by acquiring majority stake in AI board-game start-up
It’s a match made in consumer robotics heaven: Miko, a global leader in AI robots for kids, has acquired a majority stake in Square Off, a start-up known for AI-driven automated board games.
Miko has acquired 70 percent of Square Off, giving complete exit to existing investors. With the acquisition, Miko will expand its product line beyond the AI robot companions that put it on the map. Miko’s eponymous kids’ robots use AI to deliver playful learning experiences for children ages 5 and older.
The move is a natural fit for two companies that share a passion for robotics and learning, says Sneh Vaswani, Miko co-founder and CEO. Kids who actively use Miko 3, the company’s best selling robot, increase their speaking proficiency, engagement with academic activities and physical activity by more than 45% on average. Square Off’s interactive boards, which build cognitive skills via games such as chess, use robotics and AI to adapt to the player’s level of expertise.
Miko robots and Square Off smart board games will soon communicate, with Miko robots taking on the role of instructors that teach children to play chess and other board games, Vaswani says.
“AI is the future of play, and Square Off’s innovation has transformed how players young and old interact with chess and other board games”Sneh Vaswani, Miko co-founder and CEO
“AI is the future of play, and Square Off’s innovation has transformed how players young and old interact with chess and other board games,” Vaswani says. “We’re excited to help Square Off continue accelerating its growth.”
The start-up’s leadership will stay on board, continuing to work toward their vision of bringing robotics and AI-powered smart toys to 10 million homes globally. Miko will support the start-up through that journey.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with Miko on this journey to revolutionize edutainment for kids,” says Square Off Co-Founder and CEO Bhavya Gohil. Atur Mehta, the start-up’s co-founder and CTO, says the move will “bring new levels of innovation, design and interaction to the space.”
The acquisition is the latest in a string of bold strategic moves from Miko. This spring, the company announced a partnership with Paramount Consumer Products. In August, Miko 3 became the first kids robot to launch an official Disney app. Miko was the only Asian start-up to participate in the 2021 Disney Accelerator.
“This is a well-planned strategic move from Miko, where on one hand the software ecosystem is expanded through Miko Max platform offerings and on the other hand an ecosystem of IoT connected products is built around the child through these initiatives,” says Keshav R. Murugesh, seasoned technology evangelist and one of the earliest backers of Miko.
Beyond a passion for robotics and learning, Miko and Square Off share other commonalities. Both companies launched their first consumer robotics product in 2017, have developed multiple iterations since and have teams located both in Mumbai and Silicon Valley. The companies both experienced considerable growth during the pandemic, as more families sought out interactive learning experiences for their children.
Founded in 2015, Miko is a consumer robotics company passionate about bringing the best of technology to young learners everywhere. Home to leading educators, engineers, psychologists and content developers, Miko takes learning (and fun) to a new level with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, robotics and IoT. The company has more than 230 employees globally and offices in the innovation hubs of Silicon Valley, London and Mumbai.
The company’s Miko 3 robot builds upon the success of Miko 2 with enhanced deep learning AI, a super-charged personality, an ever-growing premium content platform and other features that bring the best of AI to kids ages 5 to 9. Miko 3 is kidSAFE+ COPPA certified and the winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards. Miko’s premium content partners include Disney, Paramount Consumer Products, Lingokids, Da Vinci Kids, Cosmic Kids, KidloLand, Kidoodle.TV, Tiny Tusks and Out of This Word.
ABOUT SQUARE OFF:
When Square Off launched its pioneering automated chess board, players for the first time could connect with and play against other players from around the world, on their very own board through the power of telerobotics. What started with a successful Kickstarter campaign turned into a portfolio of four products sold globally in more than 50 countries. The brand continues to spin some magic into everyday lives through robotics and AI.
Square Off is a past winner of CES Top Tech & Innovation awards and the Coolest Tech Award by Digital Trends. Its partnership with chess.com and lichess.com allow users to connect online and challenge over 100Mn+ online users.