Invest with Moxie
To our Valued Investors:
From the time it was founded as an academic discipline in the mid-1950s until shortly after Steven Spielberg drove the point home in his 2001 feature film of the same name, the phrase Artificial Intelligence (AI) had been understood to mean taking a machine or a robot and instilling in it the ability to mimic human cognitive skills, most importantly in the area of learning and problem solving. In the dystopian film, Haley Joel Osment plays the role of David, a juvenile robot prototype that is presumed to stand in as a surrogate for a human child as it is programmed to experience love. The more current definition of AI, based in real life rather than in science fiction, focuses more on rationality, or the ability to reason. When a computer program can conform its “beliefs” according to detected reasons to believe, and then it engages in actions that are driven by learned beliefs, it is said to be employing AI as we understand it today.
At Iron Edge VC, our mission is to remain vigilant in knowing all there is to know about the most promising companies that have yet to be publicly traded. We have learned that to capture the greatest amount of “stored potential”, we need to identify these enterprises before they become household names. As we progress down this path, we find ourselves exposed to many different forms of innovation, and the most prevalent theme we see is that so many rely on AI to work their magic. The ways that these inventions will improve life on Earth are abundantly evident. Palantir Technologies uses AI to do just about everything from curtailing shoplifting to obstructing international terrorism. Amplitude, NextRoll, and Attentive Mobile use it to help companies maintain optimal web presence, and then attract and retain loyal customers. Through AI, Orbital Insight keeps track of everything from crop health to global oil reserve levels to military activities in Ukraine. The list is long and constantly growing, and even though they all share an ability to learn “beliefs” and apply these beliefs to future actions, none of them seem to involve adding a man-made member to the family.
One startup that has been making waves fully devotes its best-in-class Artificial Intelligence application to a purpose that is undeniably good. In fact, this company is an honoree of Fast Company’s 2022 World Changing Ideas Awards in the AI and data category, announced just yesterday. Interestingly, their AI materializes in a way that might remind you somewhat of the Spielberg film. Based in Pasadena, California, Embodied, Inc. is the creator of Moxie the Robot. Moxie doesn’t perform household chores, he doesn’t help you do your taxes, and he doesn’t preheat your oven while you’re driving home from work. His job is more important than that. Moxie acts as an intelligent companion for your child, providing “play-based learning that is paced to weekly themes and missions with content designed to promote social, emotional, and cognitive learning”. In creating Moxie, Embodied accomplished an admirable blending of Artificial Intelligence and emotional intelligence to create a highly effective form of life skill development.
Moxie’s visual design was created in collaboration with Pixar Studios. This much is immediately noticeable with one look at the robot’s soft, warm, and generally calming physical features. As soon as Moxie is powered up for the first time, he yawns, stretches, and asks the child, “What’s your name?”, while using facial recognition to permanently establish a familiarity — and a touching connection — with his new human friend. Moxie’s facial expressions are widely varied and remarkably true to those of human beings. Those expressions are perfectly synchronized with whatever Moxie happens to be discussing at any given moment. If a child tells Moxie a story, Moxie listens intently, and he genuinely appears interested. When told of an unpleasant event in a child’s day, Moxie follows up by asking relevant questions with his head tilted a little forward, his brow slightly furrowed, and his mouth drawn down just enough to convincingly convey empathy. If the kid cracks a joke, Moxie’s face lights up with delight. Finally, when the hour is late and it’s the child’s bedtime, Moxie appears sleepy and eventually drifts off into a slumber. More than just “cool features”, these humanoid traits are critically important to Moxie’s originally intended function. Moxie is particularly gifted in forging a bond with autistic children, and part of what makes him so good at it is those large, inviting eyes. It’s hard to turn away from them. His appearance of authentic interest comes in a completely unthreatening form because the child understands that Moxie is not a real person, and in fact truly belongs to the child.
Moxie’s extremely reliable long-term memory enables him to frame conversations in context with information that the child had provided during earlier chat sessions. The information Moxie gathers accumulates over time to let him develop a comprehensive profile of what makes the child unique. Moxie grows to understand the child’s likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, and fears, and his interactions with the child become increasingly customized. This all enables Moxie to direct conversation toward themes like bullying, learning how to make a friend, or feeling empathy for somebody else’s struggles. In a truly brilliant twist, the robot delivers these lessons under the pretext that it is actually Moxie who is learning from the child. His “backstory” is that he has been dispatched from a secret laboratory and sent on a mission to learn how to be a better friend, and for that purpose he has recruited the child to be his mentor. Moxie keeps things fresh by changing things up, focusing over time on different themes like “being kind to others” and “appreciating nature”. He will challenge his child with “missions” like writing a loving note to a parent or learning one new fact about a planet. The robot’s sole purpose is to foster the development of social, cognitive, emotional, and communication skills, and it does so in the easy and palatable form of “learning through play”. The device proved to be so effective at cultivating these valuable skills that demand eventually surged among families that were not directly affected by autism. During the most severe days of the pandemic-related lockdowns, for instance, many of the families that welcomed Moxie into their homes found that their children’s interactions with the robot filled a void that had been created by the lack of in-person learning in schools. Now that classes are mostly in session again, people are still finding Moxie to be a valuable supplement to those intangible forms of personal growth.
Embodied also provides a companion phone application for parents who purchase Moxie. Through this program, Mom and Dad can monitor their child’s progress. The reports displayed on the app give suggestions on how to bridge the gap between playtime interactions with Moxie and real-life circumstances. Importantly, Embodied is not providing a “life hack” that removes the responsibility of child nurturing from the parents. Rather, it creates for the child a secure and non-threatening environment that houses a foundation of important lessons which parents can expand into the world outside. As this all happens, interactions with the Moxie unit and the phone app are sent to Embodied’s developers so that they may fine-tune and update the entire worldwide network of Moxie units. Of course, this is done with the strictest adherence to all privacy standards, notably the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). All information is scrubbed of anything that could identify a user, and the anonymized data points are used only to improve Moxie’s AI.
The key to Moxie’s effective functioning lies within Embodied’s proprietary SocialX platform. Embodied’s own in-house team created, and is constantly perfecting, SocialX to direct the robot’s body movements, facial expressions, and discussion topics. Last May, Embodied acquired Kami Computing, an early-stage startup whose whole function is to develop conversational AI, machine learning, and natural language generation. Through Kami, Embodied’s Moxie has accomplished an industry-beating average length of 25 minutes of coherent conversation, every day for more than three months with actual users. This technology and conversational aptitude are consistently improving, and Moxie owners will share in that benefit without having to buy an updated unit because, of course, every Moxie receives regular Wi-Fi firmware upgrades.
Artificial Intelligence has been evolving for decades, and the award-winning Embodied is steering it into the most exciting, unexpected, and singularly meaningful places. Unfortunately for most, the company’s shares are not yet available to the investing public. Embodied is privately held, not for sale at the stock exchange, but your friends at Iron Edge VC can deliver your piece of this promising enterprise through our fund before the masses have the opportunity drive the stock price to new heights. Demand for ownership is likely to spike in this name as public awareness of its innovations inevitably grows, but now it is still early enough in the game to beat the rush. If you would like to learn more, or if you know of anybody else who would, do not hesitate to contact us by clicking “Get in Touch” below.
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All the Best,
Founder & Managing Partner
Founder And Managing Partner