3 startups that want to make your life easier

Think Silicon Valley startups are way too focused on Web apps? Incubator Y Combinator's latest crop of 70 new ventures included a batch of hardware innovators. Here are three of our favorites.

Double Robotics
Double Robot
Double robots peer at a gallery display.

Funding: $150,000 from Y Combinator + raising a round now
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
Founders: David Cann, Marc DeVidts

Ever wondered what would happen if you combined a Segway with an iPad? Meet the video robot built by David Cann and Marc DeVidts.

DeVidts -- whom you may recognize from Comedy Central's show BattleBots -- describes the device as a "telepresence robot." It looks like an iPad on wheels, and it's designed to make videoconferencing more flexible and amusing.

The idea came to Cann and DeVidts when they were working on a kids' toy company and ran into problems communicating with workers at factories in China.

"What if we had a way to walk around and talk to people?" DeVidts wondered. Long-distance bots exist, but they typically carry price tags of $6,000 or more. Robotics startup Anybots charges $9,700 for its bots.

DeVidts and Cann got that down to $2,000 -- iPad not included. In the last week they've sold $600,000 worth of pre-ordered robots. Their first units will ship in December.

The crew envisions all kinds of uses for their "Double" bots: Doctors seeing patients remotely, families visiting elderly relatives remotely, virtual tourists exploring a museum in Paris. A student considering various colleges could send their Double for a campus tour.

Cann and DeVidts eventually hope their robots will be able to accomplish physical tasks remotely, like opening doors and pressing elevator buttons.


- Last updated August 23 2012 09:27 AM ET
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