Skype Meets Segway – the Ultimate Teleconferencing GadgetMay 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Collaboration, Remote Working | 2 Comments
Tags: robotics, teleconferencing, telepresence
I’ve long been a fan of deploying technology as an alternative to travel (including commuting). Just recently, I posted on this blog about the impact on business continuity, if key staff are unable to get to their place of work. I also published the same discussion as two articles on Ezine Articles.
So, I was intrigued earlier today to see the BBC’s Techbrief announce on Twitter the prospect of a “telepresence robot”. The story came from the IEEE’s Spectrum blog and describes QB, the brainchild of Mountain View CA robotics startup Anybots. This 15Kg self-propelled webcam has a top speed of around 3.5mph and features two cameras (one for conferencing and one pointing downwards so you can see where you’re going), high quality speakers and 3 microphones. The Spectrum blogger claims their favourite gadget (oh, me too!) is the green laser pointer that emanates from the robot’s left eye. Oh come on, would I lie about something as cools as this?
The QB robot will cost around $15k when it ships in the Autumn of 2010 and soon, you’ll be able to test drive a demonstrator model at Anybots’ offices, through your (Firefox) browser. Apparently, the only infrastructure required is a wi-fi network. Anybots draw a distinction between conventional structured videoconferencing systems and the use of QB in a completely unstructured way. Instead of needing to go to a specially equipped conference room, QB comes to you. I’m not sure what happens when two gadget-mad telecommuters in the same company have one of these. Will they need 3rd party insurance? You wouldn’t want to be carrying a tray of coffees from the canteen, when a big meeting’s about to start.
Nevertheless, as a proponent of remote working and incurable gadget freak, this ticks all the boxes for me. Mind you, I can’t help thinking it bears an unmistakable resemblance to the star of my kids’ favourite movie from the 1980’s, “Short Circuit”. I’m not sure that it could dance with Ally Sheedy though. It also struck me that, with the addition of a small motor and some flexible hosing, the QB could lend a hand to facilities management, while it’s in transit.
I’m off to figure out how to convince MrsV1951 that I absolutely need one of these – any (even vaguely) believable arguments in favour can be left in the Comments section below. In the meantime, take a look at QB in action.