Have an extra $16,000 sitting around? Then you can be the proud owner of Suitable Technogies' Beam Remote Presence Robot. The telepresence bot comes with software and a docking station for an 8-hour recharge. The included software allows full audio and video control from two cameras and is available on both PC and Mac. At a height of five feet and weighing 95 lbs, the 17" screen can perform all those videoconferencing business chores while you hang at home. We were thinking that the Woz could finally replace his Segway.
Telepresence robots are cropping up everywhere these days and the latest comes from Double Robotics. The appropriately named Double uses an iPad as the means to control it and a second one as the "face." What's good about this telebot is that while most can cost in the tens of thousands, this one can be pre-ordered for a mere $1,999 (iPads not included.) The simplicity, low cost and basic design of the Double has been accepted so readily that the company will not be able to fill new orders until 2013. We, too wanted one before we got even half way through the video promo.
iRobot teamed with InTouch Health to produce the latest in medical robotics dubbed RP-Vita. The doctorbot is mostly an assistant at this stage and is capable of accessing medical files and making diagnoses. Controlled with an iPad control interface and joystick, it can use its electronic stethoscope to check out the patient. Not much human contact here unless they equip it with a friendlier telepresence on its screen.
A pair of robots from Lovotics dubbed Kissenger can be used for virtual kissing, their own form of diplomacy. The artificial mouths, according to their makers, are good for human to human, human to robot and human to virtual character. We don't have a whole lot to say for this one other than if you need these, you are spending way too much time on the interweb.
The reality of the movie Avatar may be taking baby steps but it is well on its way. The Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment Project connected student Tirosh Shapira in Israel to a robot in France. This was done with an fMRI machine that scanned his brain for data that was then analyzed and interpreted into commands. Shapira could get the bot to look left and right and move forward while he gets a video feed from the robot's head cam. After performing 3 trials, the human said he felt like he was actually "inside" his metal surrogate.
IRobot has plans to reorganize its company into 3 units, home , military and emerging technology robots. The latter includes Ava, which may be closer to the real world than we think. The company finds the telepresence bot that operates with the aid of an iPad can be used in the areas of healthcare, retail and security. Hmmm. We bet it would make a helluva Walmart Greeter.
We first told you about iRobot's AVA last January appearing at the CES 2011 and it seems that they are finally being released to the world, one bot at a time. For example, one telepresent/iPad bot has been built for Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto to assist Dr. Mirek Otremba and the rest of the staff. iRobot has already teamed up with InTouch Health, a robotics company that specializes in medical conferencing by remote, so we expect that there will soon be an AVA appearing at a health care facility near you.
Invest in an iRobot Create and a netbook that can Skype and you can get a telepresence robot for about $500.00. Google employee Johnny Chung Lee has previously worked on the Kinect so the dude knows what he is doing. He has posted instructions as well as VideoChatRobot software for downloading, so maybe you can get your own bot for fetching scones.
The company that produces the telepresent Anybot decided to put one to the test when Aaron Blumenstein craved a scone from Red Rock Coffee. This video was taken by the engineer to document the occasion. We would add that this is free advertising that is as good as it gets because the company now boasts a backlog of 4-6 weeks.(We suggest future outings should be recorded by another Anybot with a Steadycam.)
A new application has been found for a telepresence robot. A 15 year-old Texas student with polycystic kidney disease could not attend class because last year his body began rejecting a transplant that he had received when he was seven. So a Vgo robot has been provided so that Lyndon Bady can stay in bed. He sends it from class to class and controls the bot from his PC. His shining face appears on the display.
iRobot's display at the CES last week included AVA, a robot that is connectable to iPad and Android smartphones. Using sensors that are the same as in the Kinect, the bot builds a map of its area and will go to any location on it by a simple touch. The application can be used for security, telepresence and as a fetch and carry bot.
True to their promise, So. Korea recently "hired" 29 teachers for elementary schools in Daegu. These Enkey robots are about 3.3 meters tall with a human face on its display. Remotely controlled by English teachers in the Philippines, they speak, read and dance for students, but can only handle about 8 at a time.
Each costs about $1.39 million, a large chunk of cash to replace humans who would rather not travel to remote areas. We bet that there are plenty of unemployed teachers who would work for a lot less than that amount.
Gostai has introduced Jazz, a WiFi telepresence robot that can be used for video conferencing or telesurveillance. With an infrared camera, laser system and map of its intended area, a remote operator controls it real time with an ordinary web browser. Jazz stores past incidents, can see in the dark or light up dark areas and can record in wide angles. You can feel super secure for an €8400 (~$11,000) investment.
While you were fighting at your latest family holiday meal, the Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam ad agency created an app for those who cannot hook up in person. The Virtual Holiday Dinner teams custom built mechanical dolls with Skype calling so that any family can enjoy each other in 15 minute slots. Although only 156 actually knew of and used the service, perhaps if you book now, they will open it again next year or open it up for family reunions.