Skip to main content

Commercializing Academic Research: From the MIT Media Lab to a Consumer Robot

Cory Kidd (Catalia Health)
Location: Fire House
Slides:   1-PDF 

My Ph.D. research at the MIT Media Lab and Boston University Medical Center showed that social robots are more effective at engaging people over long periods of time than delivering the same information through a screen. Upon finishing at MIT, I launched Intuitive Automata to commercialize this work and embarked on the process of taking academic research and turning it into a consumer product.

I’ll discuss the range of challenges that have to be considered and overcome to make this happen. This includes customer development, sales, product design, design for manufacturing, and funding. Depending on the length of the talk, I’ll give one or two specific examples of the difficulties that we’ve encountered in bring our Autom™ weight loss coach to market over the previous six years.

The talk will include a demonstration of either the pre-manufacturing prototype of the Autom™ weight loss coach or possibly a model from the first manufacturing run by May. This will require one two-prong electrical outlet (very low current draw; much less than a laptop). Ideally a second microphone is useful for the demo since the robot speaks, but I have shared the presenter mic many times when necessary.

Photo of Cory Kidd

Cory Kidd

Catalia Health

Dr. Cory Kidd is CEO and founder of Intuitive Automata, a health care company that creates interactive coaches to help people address the challenges of making lasting change. Dr. Kidd received his M.S. and Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab in human-robot interaction. While there, he conducted studies that showed the advantages of using a physical robot over screen-based interactions. He conducted an extensive study showing the efficacy of his weight loss coach in helping people to diet and did work in local nursing homes with robotic companions for elderly individuals. More information is available at