Reach Robotics, a company set up by UWE graduate Silas Adekunle and Chris Beck, a former roboticist in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, have developed a fighting robot you control with your iPhone or iPad.
The MekaMon robot, available for £299.95, allows owners to battle other users in an augmented reality world and is featured in Apple’s official Christmas gift guide.
“This is an exciting time for our company as now after years of development work we are finally able to bring Mekamon to customers across the UK and US,” says Silas, who has seen the company he and Chris set up in 2013 grow from its conception in the BRL Technology Incubator into a business with 29 members of staff.
“We’ve created an entirely new video gaming platform. MekaMon straddles both the real and virtual worlds while taking the gaming experience beyond a player’s screen and turning their sitting room into a limitless robotic battle zone,” Silas continued.
The MekaMon combines real-world action and virtual missions. Players can pilot their robot against waves of augmented reality enemies, duel other players in Mek-to-Mek battles, play in the Dropzone sandbox mode and learn to code with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds.
“Levelling up” in-game unlocks new abilities and traits. Armour, weapons and accessories can be customised to change appearance and tactics.
Future updates promise to bring new game modes and animations: MekaMon will develop its own unique personality and evolve alongside complicated behaviour trees.
Reach Robotics has attracted $9.5m (£7.1m) of investment funding and is in the process of moving out of its offices at Future Space in Bristol to new premises at Bristol Business Park.
Silas recognised the importance of a business arrangement with Apple, “We knew it was the big opportunity we had been waiting for that would allow us to show the whole world what we had been working on. We needed a partner that understood our vision and Apple gives us the very best platform to showcase that. It has been great to finally push things over the finishing line”.
Silas says investors could “see the potential for what we were developing”, and added that, “When I was a student at UWE Bristol I spent some time going into schools to help inspire young people and it struck me that there was a huge untapped market for a consumer robot with a difference. We used to go in and explain simple robotics to try to inspire the young roboticists and engineers of the future and this experience set me off thinking about designing gaming robots”.
By Jonathan Creffield