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Cynthia Breazeal

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Cynthia Breazeal is the social robotics pioneer behind consumer robot company Jibo. Born November 15, 1967 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breazeal grew up in Livermore, CA, which she describes as a “town of physicists and cowboys.” With both of her parents working in government laboratories, Breazeal grew up surrounded by technology and technological thinkers. She fell in love with robots after becoming entranced with the anthropomorphic droids of “Star Wars,” but had aspirations to become an astronaut throughout her undergraduate work at UC Santa Barbara. After receiving her BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1989, Breazeal proceed to MIT for graduate work, working on early space robotics under Professor Rod Brooks. She received her S.M and her Sc.D in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 1993 and 2000 respectively.

Breazeal’s doctoral thesis revolved around the development of the now-famous Kismet, looking into expressive social exchange between humans and humanoid-robots. She has since worked on a series of social robots as an associate professor at MIT’s Media Lab, where she founded and directs the Personal Robots Group. She has been involved in the development of numerous of pioneering works of social robotics, including social robots Leonardo and Nexi.

In 2012, Breazeal founded startup Jibo Inc, taking social robotics out of the laboratory and into the home. She debuted the company’s creation, also named JIBO, on July 16, 2014, launching an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to fuel the product’s development. The campaign, which offered pre-orders of the personal assistant robot for $499, closed two months later after more than doubling its $100,000 funding goal. The 4,800 pre-ordered JIBOs, 71 of which will be donated to Boston Children’s Hospital, are scheduled to be delivered during 2015’s holiday season. Unlike Breazeal’s previous work, which was mainly constructed for research purposes, JIBO is built to aid in day-to-day human activity. By conceiving JIBO as a “platform,” its creators have allowed for its potential to amass any number of useful skills, developed by anyone with the know-how to program them.

Widely recognized for her pioneering contributions to social robotics, Breazeal is a recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lector Award, Technology Review’s TR35 Award, an ONR Young Investigator Award, and TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008, among numerous others. In addition to her work at MIT’s Media Lab and as CEO of JIBO, Breazeal is sits on the advisory board for the Science Channel and is an overseer at the Museum of Science in Boston.

Companies and Investments

JIBO Inc (Founder, CEO), MIT Media Lab Personal Robotics Group (Founder, Director), Science Channel (Advisory Board Member), Museum of Science in Boston (Overseer)

Lessons Learned

The purpose of doing the crowdfunding campaign right now is we want to build a community. We want to engage people who want to have Jibo in their home and those who want to develop for it. We’re early enough in our development cycle that we can take that input and we can be responsive to it. (Breazeal on opening yourself up to learn from your consumers, on IEEE Spectrum)

Things move really fast pace in the entrepreneur world and time is money. You are having to make the best decisions you can with incomplete information. (Breazeal on decision-making in the startup work, in an interview with Fortune)

The thing that fascinated me about women, is that women just make it work. We juggle a crazy amount of things and we make it work. So much of launching your own startup is dealing with all the things that come at your from all these angles and you have to make it work. Women already do that every day. I don’t think women should be intimated by it, I think they should think they are at an advantage. (Breazeal, on entering the startup world as a woman with confidence, in an interview with Fortune)


Inspiring Quotes

Cynthia Breazeal's Quotes

The thing that fascinated me about women, is that women just make it work.

Cynthia Breazeal

We live in this time now where the demand is far exceeding our institutional resources and human professionals. We need technology to step in and fill that gap.

Cynthia Breazeal

A lot of Western sci-fi books and movies are about the basic notion of taking responsibility for what you create. If youre talking about creating any new technology, this is always an issue.

Cynthia Breazeal

Influential Books

Mentors

Rod Brooks

References


Technical

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