Personal camerman device gets US$500k injection from Grishin Robotics

22 May 2013

The Swivl device. Image via Swivl

California start-up Swivl, the maker of a robotic video device that mimics a personal cameraman, has raised US$500,000 from the investment company Grishin Robotics to focus on the development of its next suite of products.

Swivl, which was founded in 2010 by two design industry veterans, Brian Lamb and Vladimir Tetelbaum, has come up with a robotic device that acts like a personal cameraman. Users can mount an iOS device, such as an iPhone, on Swivl’s dock and start recording. Swivl will then track a person’s movements to frame them in a video.

According to its makers, the Swivl device can follow up to 33 feet, and swivel 360 degrees horizontally and 30 degrees vertically. It captures digital audio through a wireless connection between the marker and base.

In December, the company started a Kickstarter campaign to fund its next-generation motion-tracking platform, which will support iOS and Android devices, as well as DSLR cameras.

Swivl now plans to use the funding from Grishin Robotics to accelerate the development of this platform, as well as launch new connected video services later this year.

According to the start-up, more then 10,000 of the original Swivl units have been sold, with the device proving to be a hit with educators. Already, the device is being used by 1,000 schools and 250 universities for applications such as lesson and lecture capture and distance learning.

Dmitry Grishin, founder of Grishin Robotics, said robotics can play an increasing role in the transformation of the educational industry.

“Swivl is very well positioned for the disruptive penetration of mass-market educational technologies,” he said.

Grishin, the co-founder the Russian internet company Mail.Ru Group, set up Grishin Robotics last year to initially invest US$25m in personal robotics start-ups.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic