One Entrepreneur’s Mission to Take AI Outdoors
ShadeCraft (www.shadecraft.com) CEO and founder Armen Gharabegian has been revolutionizing the artificial intelligence (AI) industry since first launching his progressive robotics company in Los Angeles in 2013. ShadeCraft is Gharabegian’s vision to improve and beautify our everyday lives through AI with the help of an outdoor parasol.
ShadeCraft is dedicated to creating solar powered, outdoor products that connect people to the Internet through AI integration, joining consumers to the smart home ecosystem and bringing everything seamlessly outdoors in a visually beautiful way.
Dedicated to creating robotic solutions that enhance human life outdoors, ShadeCraft’s innovative shading solutions are changing the way that people live and interact outdoors through its patent pending technologies.
“Nature itself is at the core of the inspiration behind ShadeCraft’s products. We believe that nature has a very evolutionary process to adapt to the environment and evolve accordingly,” comments Gharabegian.
ShadeCraft’s premiere product SUNFLOWER that was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show is the world’s first solar powered robotic shading system that links consumers to their outdoor surroundings. SUNFLOWER uses AI and internet of things (IoT) connectivity to provide autonomous, optimal shade and energy collection. SUNFLOWER’s design is aesthetically stunning, bringing an artistic look to any outdoor space.
Described as a smart outdoor shade, SUNFLOWER moves with the sun to keep one cool and sunburn free at all times. Within the clean, soft lines and sturdy construction of the SUNFLOWER lies a powerful robot packed with features that set it apart, making it a ‘must have’ throughout the year.
SUNFLOWER is a connectivity hub that communicates and connects with other IoT devices in the home. It collects solar energy which powers its battery, charges any Smartphone or other USB charged device, streams music over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or 4G networks, features built-in speakers and even has a home security system.
Gharabegian explains, “We are to outdoor umbrellas what smart cars are to the horse and wagon. SUNFLOWER is an intelligent robot that connects consumers to the IoT and smart home ecosystem. Its shading component is as much for consumers as it is for the sensitive electronics and hardware in the robot itself, and its sun tracking feature helps to achieve optimum energy. As a result of these, SUNFLOWER exists in the shape of an outdoor parasol.”
ShadeCraft recognized that there was a logical connection between the way the umbrella moves to the sun and its robots. SUNFLOWER follows the circadian rhythm as the robotic parasol follows the sun from East to West. The company believes that this smart parasol is the most viable and necessary object for consumers wishing to integrate robotic technology in any outdoor setting, and thus, made SUNFLOWER its first product offering.
Garabegian explains, “Ironically, as we were developing the functional aspects of the robot, it was a natural and logical decision to protect the most sensitive aspects of our robot within the shaded area and away from the sun. This is the way a natural sunflower has evolved, protecting its genetics from the sun and keeping it in the shade, allowing it to grow.”
According to Garabegian, the tracking of the sun has multiple functions both in necessity for the SUNFLOWER system itself, and a necessity for the consumer that does not need to move or adjust their position in relationship to the sun.
Garabegian adds, “We felt that in order to introduce the consumer to the concept of robotic objects co-existing in their environment, we needed to establish an identifiable and iconic object. Although we had developed a whole series of robotic solutions for shade and other functions, we believed that an iconic object such as the outdoor parasol would have less of a barrier to entry.”
The company hopes to forever change the way consumers live outside their homes, providing entertainment, home security, convenience of solar charging in their backyards, or locations such as the beach, cottage or campsites.
Not only is the product breaking new ground in robotic technology, its striking design provides a stunning addition to any consumers’ landscape architecture planning. SUNFLOWER recently won the Gold Prize at the 2017 IDA International Design Awards.
ShadeCraft clearly benefits from its founder Gharabegian’s decades of combined experience in design and engineering. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in industrial design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where he also taught design for six years. The accomplished artist and engineer created the limited edition, handcrafted Maximillian Chair, described as “the perfect chair,” inspired by the birth of his second son.
In 2001, Gharabegian founded Ethos Design, a design and production company involved in global exhibits and events worldwide, working with such top brands as Samsung, Ubisoft, Patek-Phillipe, Ferragamo and the Academy Awards. He is also the founder and principal designer of Lounge22, a Los Angeles-based handcrafted furniture design and fabrication company. Under his leadership as CEO of ShadeCraft, Gharabegian and his team of world class engineers, designers and marketers have successfully completed hundreds of projects globally over the last 20 years.
The initial inspiration for ShadeCraft was to develop products that make people’s lives easier and more convenient outdoors. As this progressed over the years, different ideas and concepts of shading became one of the most prevalent areas to be addressed.
Renewable energy is at the core of ShadeCraft’s products and a paradigm to its philosophy. The company’s goal is to harness the power of the sun, wind and kinetic energy provided by nature. Another important factor to ShadeCraft’s products is automation that provides and enhances specific functions that would otherwise not exist without the advent of robotic technology.
Gharabegian comments, “Although biorobotics is a broadly used term, ShadeCraft finds itself learning from nature as it enhances the environment outdoors for mankind.”
ShadeCraft’s mission is broad, but focused first and foremost on the outdoors, specifically as it pertains to interactions with humans. This range of innovation caught the attention of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. ShadeCraft will help to spearhead robotic solutions in the region’s schools and government sector for years to come.
ShadeCraft has been privately funded to-date, raising roughly $2 million and is currently entering their Series A. Pre-sales for SUNFLOWER are set to begin end of summer 2017. With the industry expected to grow to more than $14 trillion by 2022, ShadeCraft, under Gharabegian’s direction, is positioned to lead the way in outdoor robotics.