What would it look like if iRobot and HubSpot had a baby? Perphaps something like the 11-inch, Owl-shaped remote conferencing device released Wednesday by a Somerville company led by alumni of the two heavy-hitters.
Owl Labs is now selling its $799 Meeting Owl , which in addition to its convincing approximation of its namesake, is designed to improve the experience of calling into a meeting from afar.
The device, tall enough to peer over a laptop, was hatched by co-founders Max Makeev and Mark Schnittman, both iRobot veterans. Vice president of marketing Rebecca Corliss and vice president of growth Karen Rubin were both among HubSpot’s first 50 employees.
In an interview this week, executives said they thought the combination made for a compelling fit of company culture and technical strength.
Owl Labs got seed funding from Android co-creator Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures. and last month announced a $6 million funding round led by Matrix Partners.
The device itself hooks in with popular conferencing services such as Skype, and has a 360 degree camera on top. Two beady “eyes” light up to let users know it’s on.
The Meeting Owl uses an array of eight microphones to focus both the camera and the sound input on the person who is speaking, and a panoramic view on top of the remote user’s screen shows a broader view of the room. The device ships in July.
Schnittman said the idea came to him while he was working in Boston for a startup in Las Vegas. Call-in meeting were extremely frustrating, until somebody placed a conferencing camera on a rotating seat and used it to follow the discussion.
“The original research was my life,” he said.Andy Rosen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.