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The Human Face of AI: a novel platform to build social conversational robots for education, healthcare, retail other verticals

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Furhat Robotics (The Human Face of AI: a novel platform to build social conversational robots for education, healthcare, retail other verticals)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2018-04-30

Furhat is a social robot that interacts with humans, just like humans do. Furhat provides a physical embodiment of AI in the form of a head, a face and a voice, using a translucent mask and a back-projected state-of-the-art animation system, that powers virtual assistants & chatbots, and advances further the state-of-the-art in social AI. The annual market for such social robots is forecasted to reach €2bn by 2025 with applications in multiple verticals (healthcare, education, public service, research, consumer & personal robots). Furhat has the potential to become the first real social interaction with AI for the most people.

The SME Instrument Phase 1 project’s primary goal is to validate the most commercially viable product-market fits and develop comprehensive go-to-market strategies for those vertical markets.

Our specific objectives for this Phase 1 project are:
- To identify the key vertical market segments for focused commercialization of Furhat;
- To secure strategic partnerships for go-to-market with Furhat for selected verticals;
- To develop the overall platform commercialization strategy for Furhat;

Social robots and artificial intelligence are emerging technologies, and have not yet proven to the world their true value. By identifying vertical markets, building applications and deploying the robot in pilot projects, we have the opportunity to show the world the impact this technology can have on human life.
We carried out an assessment of the resources and financing necessary to proceed to a Phase 2 SME Instrument project. We plan on applying for Phase 2 funding before the next Phase 2 deadline (May 2018).

We confirmed the interest of partners for user trials during the SME Instrument Phase 2 project. We identified key stakeholders necessary for commercialization and confirmed partners for manufacturing when we are ready to scale.

We conducted product demonstrations and interviews with current and potential clients, upon which we validated our business models and pricing strategy. Finally, we drew up initial go-to-market plans for the identified market verticals, which we detail in the feasibility study.

The main result of the project showed the demand and willingness to pay for Furhat as a social simulation robot. Specifically, we identified two market verticals in which to focus our resources for commercialization, as detailed in the feasibility study.
We anticipate that this project will validate social robotics technology within our identified target markets, through the deployment of robots in real-world settings in the form of pilot projects. The learnings from these pilots will provide the opportunity to develop and improve the Furhat platform.

The project will bring benefits to multiple parties.
- For developers and researchers, the flexibility and ease of use of the Furhat platform makes it easy to create and edit applications, allowing for fast development cycles.
- For customers and end users in our target vertical markets, the appeal and wow-factor of such a novel technology attracts attention in all scenarios. Robots such as Furhat allows people to offload many simple, mundane and repetitive tasks while extending opening hours of businesses.
- For the general public, Furhat breaks down the barriers between people and technology, making it more accessible and easier to interact with services of the future.