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Formant Secures $6M in Seed Funding to Solve the Distributed Hybrid Workforce’s Biggest Challenge: Getting Humans and Machines to Speak to Each Other

The interdisciplinary team of Google X roboticists and engineers aim to provide a first-of-its-kind solution to make sense of robot data in industries such as retail, construction, automotive and healthcare

San Francisco, California, USA – WEBWIRE

Today, Formant announced $6 million in seed funding from SignalFire. The company, still in stealth mode, is creating the first robot-data management solution aimed at arming businesses with the tools and infrastructure needed to gather and understand complex feedback from their robotic fleets.

Global demand for robots is expected to exceed $77 billion by 2022, nearly doubling since 2017. As these tools begin to perform tasks across industries, there comes a growing need for humans and robots to work collaboratively, even when they are not physically in the same work environment. This new paradigm, known as the distributed hybrid workforce, is growing exponentially along with the monumental quantity of data these machines produce. Today when businesses introduce robotic or autonomous fleets, the biggest obstacle that they face is managing the new flood of robot data and leveraging it to enable more informed decisions. 

Getting the Distributed Hybrid Workforce to ‘Speak Robot.’ 

That’s where Formant comes in. 

Formant makes it possible to operate businesses in which humans and machines work together at scale. By providing a secure and flexible cloud infrastructure, the company enables analysis and insight into the data these machines produce in a convenient and frictionless way. 

Unique to Formant is the fact that it supports both engineers and non-engineers which is critical because the distributed hybrid workforce requires multidisciplinary teams to be productive. Formant will unify communications across this wide variety of roles, unlocking the shared potential of humans and robots.

For example, when an autonomous digger encounters an obstacle in the foundation of a construction site, an operator is necessary to evaluate whether it is safe for the robot to proceed or stop. This decision is made in tandem: the rich data gathered by the robot is easily interpreted by a human but difficult or legally questionable for a machine. This choice still depends on the value judgment of the human, and will change depending on if the obstacle is a gas main, a boulder, or an electrical wire.

“The prevalence of autonomous machinery will grow exponentially in the coming years across a variety of industries, but there is no infrastructure in place to handle the abundance of rich sensor data that these tools will produce. Formant aims to be the premier solution to manage the data exhaust coming from these robots and turn it into valuable insights, and we’re thrilled to support them” said Chris Farmer, Founder & CEO of SignalFire. “Formant is uniquely positioned to facilitate the next wave of hybrid workforces.”

Formant is founded by Jeff Linnell, former Director of Robotics at Google, who brings more than a decade of experience in robotic system design, manufacturing, and deployment. Prior to assembling a best-in-class crew from Google, Savioke, and Redwood Robotics to create Formant, Linnell previously founded Bot & Dolly, building elegant interfaces that enabled nontraditional applications of traditional robotics hardware; resulting in the impossible floating scenes in the Academy Award-winning film ‘Gravity’. Bot & Dolly was then acquired by Google, bringing the team to Google X where Linnell would become one of the company’s directors. At Google Robotics, Linnell met Anthony Jules, Formant’s CTO, a seasoned technology leader with deep expertise in robotics and machine learning who prior to Google also worked at Redwood Robotics which was building a collaborative robot arm prior to its acquisition by Google. 

“We founded Formant to answer the biggest problem that faces automation today: robots produce too much information, in disparate forms that cannot be viewed simultaneously,” said Jeff Linnell, founder, and CEO of Formant. “By drawing together and translating these vast torrents of data, we can help operators and engineers speak robot – understanding their robotics operations holistically and providing the groundwork to scale faster than previously possible.” 

Formant’s first product will launch in 2019. 

To join the early-access list: 

About Formant
Formant provides secure and flexible cloud infrastructure for companies who work with automated fleets. This enables unprecedented collaboration between people and robots and allows companies to put their resources towards building robot applications. Founded by a team of former Google, Savioke, and Redwood Robotics software engineers, roboticists, and product managers– Formant believes that more efficient cloud infrastructure can help unlock the shared potential of humans and robots. For more information visit

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