Bringing Hardware up to Speed — WIRED

By James Silver

Bolt, a Boston-based accelerator programme for hardware companies, will aim to hothouse promising startups in the space and take them from idea to store shelves. The site went live last May, but the Y Combinator-inspired competition has yet to launch — the first intake of ten teams is due to arrive by the end of this year.

Although the software accelerator market is suffering from oversupply (see Wired 06.12), Bolt cofounder Ben Einstein says that by comparison, “There is pretty much nothing in terms of hardware accelerators.” (Wired found just two other examples: Lemnos Labs in Silicon Valley and HaXlr8r in Shenzhen, China and San Francisco.) “It’s a pretty interesting space, because it’s so early,” he says. “We haven’t had any million-unit products [originated from] the maker community yet – but it’ll happen, without a doubt.” Bolt’s scheme will provide resources, according to its website, “from cash and shop tools to manufacturing know-how and buyer introductions”.

However, Einstein admits that fields such as consumer robotics — Grishin’s speciality — is one of the most difficult areas to develop. “[Personal robots] are extremely complex and consumer robotics is a very difficult space to win in,” says Einstein. “You’re manufacturing something, which is hard enough to begin with, then you’re in robotics, which is even more complicated, and then if you’re in consumer robotics you have to cope with extreme price sensitivities. But, because of that, there is a huge amount of room for innovation.”

WIRED magazine 2nd April 2013