QTRobot is a true “made in Luxembourg” product. Assembled and programmed at the premises of healthtech start-up LuxAI, it also builds on research from the University of Luxembourg. The humanoid social robot teaches emotions, social skills and communication ability to children with autism spectrum disorder. The messages sent out are simplified compared to humans and can more easily be understood. Research also shows that children tend to be more engaged and less stressed when the training is given by QTrobot instead of a person.
After having focused primarily on research and product development for several years, LuxAI obtained the CE and FCC certifications that confirm that its robot fulfils health and safety standards in Europe and Northern America in September 2019. “This means that we are now ready to ship the robots to interested autism professional who have been waiting for long,” Dr Aida Nazarikhorram, co-founder and CCO of LuxAI, says happily.
Growing global network for a social robot
Schools, autism centres and researchers from all over the world are expressing their interest in QTrobot, and the company’s portfolio already includes clients from the US, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China and the Middle East. It is also regularly being contacted by companies that want to become distributors on their local markets. The Luxembourg HealthTech Cluster provided additional contacts to potential partners and introductions to opinion leaders in France, Germany and the UK.
The start-up recently finalised a distribution agreement with a leading distributor of educational robots in the US, and is now receiving orders for large quantities of social robots. It is also expanding its own sales and marketing activity, notably with business development and sales representatives in the UK, Germany and France.
The users help us expand the abilities of QT to work with a larger variety of autistic children with regard to age, level of development and training objectives.
Teachers and therapists without specific IT knowledge can easily programme QTrobot and adapt it to their needs. This means that users become co-creators of its educational content. “As our clients are global, they use many different languages. The social skills taught with the help of the robot also differ depending on the cultural context. The input from users is therefore very important for us,” explains Dr Nazarikhorram. “In addition to adding new linguistic and cultural layers, they help us expand the abilities of QT to work with a larger variety of autistic children with regard to age, level of development and training objectives.”
Opportunity for investors
R&D remains a top priority. “At the moment, we are well ahead of the competition in terms of technology and the global leader in our field. In order for us to maintain our competitive advantage and leadership, we need to invest more in R&D and develop more advanced software. The robot should also be able to autonomously provide data, progress reports and recommendations for therapists,” Dr Nazarikhorram points out.
At the moment, we are well ahead of the competition in terms of technology and the global leader in our field.
In order to succeed with the international scaling as well as the R&D efforts, LuxAI is looking to bring in additional external funding. The company is open to cooperation with venture capitalists both in Luxembourg and abroad. “It is very good to have some local investors on board, but we also need people who have experience of internationalisation and global markets. Working with investors from the UK, the US and other countries could give us more insight into global expansion and help us capture opportunities outside Luxembourg and the EU.”
Pictures: © LuxAI