By Ryan Velez
The Atlanta Black Star reports that 25-year old Silas Adekunle has scored the deal of a lifetime, working with Apple on an exclusive distribution deal for his “Mekamon” robots, dubbed the “the world’s first real-life gaming robot” after “spending some time in Cupertino.”
Mimicking a cross between a spider and a crab, the Mekamon is a unique twist on the robot but with modern augmented reality capabilities. “When I went into robotics I really loved motion,” the Nigerian-born Adekunle told Forbes back in November. “People are used to clunky robots, and when you make it appear to be realistic, people either love it or they’re freaked out.” Ron Okamoto, Apple’s head of developer relations, was surprised by the robot’s ability to display emotions via movement with its movement. The tech retailer has since priced Adekunle’s “battle bots” at $300 a pop, putting them in almost all of its stores in Britain and the United States.
According to Christopher Beck, co-founder and CTO of Reach Robotics, the Mekamon will soon be touch responsive, wagging from side to side like a dog and displaying other happy emotions when their owners pat their heads.
“A large part of our product is emotional,” Beck explained. Unlike many people his age, Adekunle didn’t always have exposure to modern tech growing up, despite the fact that he grew up in relative wealth in Nigeria. The young entrepreneur recalled the time someone brought a computer to his elementary school and students who wished to see it had to pay a fee. That wouldn’t stop him from exploring and experimenting. Even after moving to Britain, there was no email and they only had phone access every couple of months.
“Everyone told us it was too complicated and expensive and no one would buy it,” Beck told Fortune. “Toy manufacturers who were stuck in their ways were saying ‘You have to make it as cheap as possible. People will play with it for five minutes, then break it.’ ” The robotics engineer has already managed to raise $7.5 million for his company. He plans to continue his relationship with Apple, he said.
“The partnership with Apple has been fruitful,” Adekunle said.”We have many more products to bring to market. It’s a watch this space situation.”