- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - The XTurion robot can smell smoke, hear a window breaking and notice a broken pipe gushing water.

It can contact its human owner via a smartphone and, at its master’s command, go to these scene of trouble and investigate, transmitting live video all the way to let its human know if it’s time to call the police.

But XTurion, being developed now by Russian scientists, won’t sell itself.

That is where two marketing students at Western New England University come in.

“It’s like playing a video game, the way an owner can use a smartphone to tell the robot what to do and where to go while the video displays on the screen,” said Mark Manolakis, a Western New England University senior majoring in marketing.

Western New England University Marketing Students Work With Russian Robotics Company

For a marketing class, the students came up with a plan to introduce a home security robot to the American market.

This semester, Manolakis and fellow senior marketing major Matt O’Connor, of Westfield, teamed up to prepare a marketing and launch campaign for XTurion and founder Sergey Kolyubin.

They did so via teleconference, Kolyubin on a screen looking at a Western New England University classroom with Manolakis, O’Connor, marketing professor Harlan E. Spotts as well as John Garvey, president of Garvey Communications Associates Inc., and entrepreneur Dan Koval of HeadsUp Design Co., based in Housatonic.

The Western New England team had been skyping and emailing with Kolyubin all semester. For Thursday’s meeting, he was in Paris.

Garvey met Kolyubin through Garvey’s involvement in MassChallange, a Boston-based accelerator for startup businesses. Koval, who’s innovative products include an ergonomic mop called the Duop, works with Garvey through is Valley Venture Mentors and has an interest in XTurion.

Kolyubin hopes to raise $130,000 for his company in the crowdfunding website IndieGoGo as a means of proving that his product can capture interest in the marketplace. The plan is to launch the robots next year once all the components are available.

His robot, he said, is easy to use. Take it out of the box and it starts exploring each room, building a map into which the owner can plug in areas it wants XTurion to keep a special watch on - be it a window or baby’s bassinet.

O’Connor described the ideal XTurion customer: a man aged 40 to 65 with a six-figure income who likes gadgets and technology. This customer is a gadget-guy who not only wants to buy technology but to show it off to friends, taking his smartphone at dinner parties to show a robot’s eye view of his home in real time.

Kolyubin said he thought his target market would be urban dwellers.

But O’Connor pointed out that more housebreaks happen in the suburbs and that’s where more people are concerned about home security anyway.

Competitors, O’Connor said, require long-term contracts for security systems or rely on a static set of cameras that can’t be sent to check something out.

Spotts said there are competing robotics companies with security applications.

“But they seem to be robots that were developed for something else that are now being adapted to the security function,” Spotts said. “It seems like the industry is going to the security space. And you are already there.”

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Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, https://www.masslive.com/news/

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