231: How Anki Overdrive and Cozmo Are Disrupting The Toy Industry and Shaking Up Retail Shelves
Mattel, the world’s #1 toy company and the ultimate bellwether of where things are going, recently posted a 5% drop in sales during its most crucial holiday season. The industry has changed as ‘toys’ have evolved into technology platforms that now make their debut at CES or even, WWDC.
But I have noticed that non-traditional companies are beginning to take market share and are innovating the future of play in ways the old guard is unable could only dream of. For example, Anki – a consumer robotics and AI startup – landed two of the top four best-selling premium toys of the holiday season of 2016. As I delved a little deeper, I came across Boris Sofman who is the Co-Founder & CEO at Anki, Inc.
As an engineer and researcher with experience in building diverse robotic systems — from consumer products to off-road autonomous vehicles and bomb-disposal robots — Boris is making it his life’s work to create products that people would not expect to be possible.
Based in San Francisco, Anki is dedicated to bringing artificial intelligence and robotics into our everyday lives. Its first product, Anki DRIVE, was named one of “The 25 Best Inventions of 2013” by TIME Magazine. Anki DRIVE is battle racing for the real world. With advanced artificial intelligence, each car thinks for itself and has one goal in mind: victory.
After debuting on stage at Apple’s 2013 WWDC keynote following an introduction by Tim Cook, Anki DRIVE is currently on sale through all Apple retail stores (U.S. & Canada), Apple.com and Anki.com.
Anki’s deep technical prowess puts the company in a unique position to create unprecedented products that astound the world in ways that traditional toy industry behemoths cannot. Unlike toy companies, Anki is made up of a team of Phd graduates and engineers schooled in robotics, artificial intelligence, and sophisticated animation.
It’s a mix of skill sets and an approach that is unique for the industry that will be difficult to replicate. Anki is just one of a handful of companies that are taking the bite out of the toy industry and shaking up retail shelves.