Archive for category Sales and Marketing

Robot Shop assistant – is it too early?

Lowes recently announced that they would be testing a robotic shop assistant in one of their smaller stores. The robot is designed to roam about the store and be available for both customers and employees to use for product look up, pricing and product location.

It is not really clear how well it will be accepted – that is why they are testing it. But some of the pundits have already weighed in – check out this clip from John Oliver’s (Last Week Tonight) show:

 

As funny as this parody is, there is serious interest in using this type of technology in retail.  We have been deploying robots for years, our concern is the robot moving and working in a crowded store. Now, for night time security and patrol –

Where is your robot?  Check out the Vigilant series robots from Gamma 2 Robotics

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Learning about Security Robots and Physical Security

We have been invited to an exciting event – the Physical Security Showcase and Luncheon hosted by the Kansas City chapter of ASIS International on June 05, 2014.

Security robots and janitorial workers sharing the corridor on the night shift.

Security robots and janitorial workers sharing the corridor on the night shift.

We will do an educational talk about real world applications of mobile robotics in the security field – what is possible, and what is still science fiction. As experts in the field of Security Robotics we believe that it is critical to have the knowledge to separate the hype from the reality. This is key to making informed decisions about the real benefits of putting security robots to work.

We will be one session of several focusing on cutting edge technology and culminating with a presentation by the FBI on “FBI Security Technology as related to Investigations” By FBI Supervisor Patricia Sola.

So, if you are in the Kansas City area – this is the event to attend! If you are not in the KC area – you should get here for this event! Besides – we will have Gamma 2 Robotics Vigilant Mobile Security Robots on display!

 

Where is your robot?  Ours will be invading Kansas City for the Physical Security Showcase in June!

Learn more about our technology

 

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2014 – The year of the robots!

Here it is the end of the year, and those of us at Vigilant Robots would like to say Happy New Year, and wish you the best in 2014.

Vigilus MCP security robot on Duty in Lobby

Vigilus MCP security robot on night patrol duty in Lobby

We think of the coming year as “The Year of the Robots,” especially for those of us in the security field. With all the buzz surrounding Google’s acquisition of 8 robotics companies, Amazon’s great press covering their (questionable) use of delivery drones, and the big splash in the media by the project at KnightScope – we think it is going to be a banner year for robots.

We just wanted to remind you that you don’t have to wait!

  • KnightScope is hoping to have a product by late 2015,
  • Google thinks it will be a “10 year moon-shot”, and
  • Amazon does not expect delivery drones in the foreseeable future.

But at Vigilant Robots we are ready to ship your security patrol robot today.

With a cost-effective price, and under a 1 year ROI, you can be under-bidding your competition, increasing your security, and differentiating your company from the others with a single phone call!

So, to get ready for the Year of the Robots, I’d like you to do one (or more) of three things – right now, while you are thinking of it!

  1. At the very least, click on this link, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter on the growing interest in mobile Security robots,
  2. Second, visit our blog “Where is my robot” regularly, for updates on technology, and how the security field is changing, and
  3. Last, stop by the new Vigilant Robots website to learn about our new option packages, like the FireWatcher, the new Strobes and Siren package, and the available headlight package for high quality video in low-light conditions.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and best wishes for success in 2014 – The Year of the Robots!

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Are Industry Awards Worth the Effort?

If you visit almost any commercial website, especially those in the security industry, you will find a page dedicated to awards. Awards the company has won, awards the companies products have won, and awards the companies people have won. Most of these awards have required a significant investment of the comapnies time and resources, and many require application fees as well.

So, is it worth it?

We have recently entered into several award competitions, one is over, one os ongoing, and the third is looming on the horizon. So this is a significant question for our small company. Let me describe where we are in these processes.

ASIS Accolades 2012 is an award sponsored by the premier international organization for physical security. Each year between 50 and 100 companies apply for one of ten “Security’s Best” awards. The competition is tough, especially for a small company like ours. There is a hefty application fee, although the organization does provide good media coverage for those companies that do apply. There is a significant amount of work for the application, including white papers, videos, essays describing the value of the new product, etc. All in all, we probably invested 20 to 40 hours of effort into the application. Fortunately, we were selected as a winner. So was it worth it?

For us, yes. We are a small company with no track record in the security industry. We were attending a major trade show to introduce our new product, and we could easily get lost in the 700 to 800 other exhibitors at the show. As it happens, the award made a significant difference to our trade show results. The organization featured us prominantly on their show promotions, we got numerous blog postings and traditional media coverage. And our booth was swamped. All in all it was definitely woth the investment. But, that was because we won the award.

We are currently in another award competition. Fortunately, it is local, but there are still significant investments of company resources. Again, we will gain benefits from simply applying, and being accepted for consideration. A few thousand people will hear our names, and see our products in action. But it also requires dozens of hours of preparation, execution and documentation. So, it may be too early to tell if this one is directly cost effective.

But, there is another benefit to the industry awards process. When a potential customer is considering using your product or service they are confronted with a terrible decision. Yes, they have a need, and yes, your offering looks like it will end their pain, but will it really? If they guess wrong, their company pays the cost and their reputation takes a hit. So there is a lot of down side that makes them (correctly) cautious. This is very strong in the security industry, where reputation rides on continued successful delivery. Can they take the risk on a new product or service?

This is one strong benefit of an industry award. Suddenly, it is not just some smooth talking salesperson, with some high gloss brochures. The industry as a whole (or the industry trade group at any rate) has said – yes this product or service _is_ as cool as it looks! And that seems to carry weight, and makes the customer’s decision a little easier.

The Gamma Two / Vigilant Robots team (with robot) at ASIS 2012

ASIS 2012 Accolade award “Security’s Best” winning team in the booth with the robot.

So, for us at least, the time, effort, and money are worth it. and we will continue to pursue industry awards. Of course, now I have to find the time and resources to modify the website, the sales collateral, and build an awards case to feature the awards, but I guess that is a good problem to have.

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Vigilus Robot awarded Security’s Best by A.S.I.S

Our security robot – the Vigulus MCP was awarded one of the coveted Security’s Best products of 2012 at the recent conference put on by A.S.I.S.

The Vigilant Robots team and the ASIS "Security's Best" award for 2012

The Vigilant Robots team and the ASIS “Security’s Best” award for 2012

 

This recognition by the preeminent Security Standards and certification body is really cool. It is great to see that the time we invested in working with the security markets really helped us define a product that is both useful and valued by the community.

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A long strange trip

We just returned from a robotics exhibition in San Diego. That was not the long strange trip I had in mind however.  Okay, the robot (Vigilus-MCS) that we brought along had a long strange trip – including a short stop by the security team at the Hoover Dam, but I was thinking more about the trip that we began about 4 years ago, when we started on the current robot platform. The philosophy at Gamma Two has never been tightly aligned with the current trends in research. We are not big on large, all encompassing theoretical research. We focus on solving real-world problems. Sometimes that means we need to do cutting edge theoretic research to come up with the solutions.

The Vigilus Robot on the demonstration site during site set-up

The Vigilus Robot on the demonstration site during site set-up

We were driven by a question when we started this project: “Why don’t we have robots working along side us every day?”  Or, to put it more simply “Where’s my robot?” That led to several years of theoretic research, which culminated in two things. The second was our technical book “Robots, Reasoning, and Reification,” which summarizes the open problem that stood between us and functional robot co-workers. The book outlines a theoretic solution to the problem. I suppose that we could have stopped there.

But, like I said, we are out of step with the pure research community.  We knew that this was the case, since we have been active members of the Performance Metrics for Intelligent Systems (PerMIS) community for over a decade. This conference is run by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), they have an interest in measuring the ‘intelligence’ of intelligent systems. For the last several years, Louise and I have been on the program committee for this conference. Every year we would be part of a group of researchers pushing the limits of what we know about making computer and robotic systems smart. We would see dozens of new and untested theories every year. But, we weren’t willing to propose a theoretic solution, unless we knew that it worked.

So, the first thing that came out of the years of research was a functioning robotic brain, one that enabled the robot to see the world in a way that is similar to the way living systems see the world, and reason about the world in a way that is similar to the way living systems reason about the world.  Of course the brain wasn’t complete, but we had a ‘proof of concept’ prototype that people could work with. It didn’t do much, but it did things in the right way. There’s a short video of the robot updating its model of the world, and keeping track of objects. This was done in November of 2008, and shows the first generation proof of concept robot. When I compare that system with the robot we took to San Diego, I realize just how long a trip it has been.

Up to this trip we have been focused on researching the theory of robotics, then the practicality of developing a robot.  Then we spent enormous amounts of time and energy looking for money to fund the R&D. But we turned a corner this month, a big corner for the business.  We were invited to pitch our company to the assembled investors of the Angel Capital Summit, put on by the Rockies Venture Club.  We were also selected as one of six companies to present “cutting edge technology” in ground robotics to the buyers at the NDIA Ground Robotics Conference an Exhibition.  They both occurred on the same days, last week. The same days that the PerMIS 2012 conference was running.

This is where the long strange trip really became apparent. Five years ago, there would have been no question, we would have been trading ideas with some of the best researchers into machine intelligence in the world. Two years ago, we would have been pitching our hearts out to a group of investors, in hopes that one of them might be interested in becoming part of the ‘next big thing’.  This year there was no question, we were going to be presenting our robots to the people who can buy them and put them to work, making lives better.

Like I said, it has been a long, strange trip.

Where’s your robot? Ours are being built by Gamma Two Robotics, here in Colorado.

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