Telepresence Robots Send You across the Globe from Home
Ever wish a sick co-worker would’ve just worked from home rather than bring their plague to the office, or look longingly at the transporters from Star Trek the night before you have to leave for a work trip? Maybe you’re just a little socially awkward. One solution to those problems is a telepresence robot.
Telepresence robots are basically mobile video conference machines. The robots have been designed with a screen for viewers to interact with, as well as speakers to project your voice. Users can control the robot via the Internet, using a program or app. Along with communications ability, telepresence robots are wheeled to give the remote user the ability to move around.
A number of companies are developing telepresence robots. VGo has created a machine that is marketed for a number of applications, including healthcare, large enterprise, manufacturing and education. VGo’s basic pitch is that telepresence robots allow for vital personnel to be in multiple places at nearly the same time. Need an engineer to work on a project with distant partners? Hook up the VGo robot and let him conference from the office rather than lose productive time traveling.
A healthcare example is sending a telepresence robot home with patients to monitor them during recovery. A pilot program at Children’s Hospital Boston is doing just that.
“Eventually, I see a whole fleet of these robots being sent home with patients,” says Dr. Hiep T. Nguyen, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Children’s Hospital’s Robotic Surgery Research and Training Center. ”With this technology, we’re going to be able to replace hospital monitoring with home-based monitoring.”
Gostai’s Jazz Connect is another solution for telepresence robots that focuses on an attractive design and ease of communication. One suggested application for the Jazz Connect is connecting with a manufacturing facility from your office, including the power to check out production.
Suitable Technologies, based in Palo alto, CA, is developing a robot named Texai. The company expects to have its first production devices ready in the second quarter of 2012 (and it’s hiring engineers).
With multiple companies working to manufacture and market this technology, it seems likely you’ll be interacting with one in the near future.
Below you’ll find a video about VGo.