With a slew of articles discussing “Shelbot Has Nothing on These iPad Telepresence Robots” or “Double Robotics’ telepresence robot gives your iPad legs” in the last 24 hours, we were thrilled to see someone come up with an incredibly simple, elegant solution to the quite expensive iRobot Ava.
From the video, the device covers a number of issues that needed to be addressed to make a compelling, reasonably-cost remote presence system:
- small, agile footprint – with the double wheels and light base, the double supports quick movement without causing any potential physical injury (unless you let a kid climb up and the iPad falls on their head – ouchie!).
- adjustable neck height from the pilot’s control – one of the biggest benefits to this device is the ease of the head height to be changed from 3’6″ to 5′ – learning from the experiences Anybots (their Y-Combinator predecessor) discovered with their carbon-fiber neck. Impressively, the linear actuator works incredibly smoothly in the video – we’d love to see upfront and personal how fast the actuator goes up and down.
- leveraging Opentok as their video transport – instead of spending a great deal of time building a video software solution (as the upcoming Suitable solution will show), double went the “lean” route and built on top of the Opentok platform.
- rapid recharging rate – from the notes, it says “2 hours to full recharge”, one has to wonder how long it lasts on a day charge.
- manufactured in Miami from parts sourced in the USA – this is an amazing point of information since most companies are often beholden to the Chinese manufacturing channel and must wait for months to get parts. By doing a majority of their work in the US, this could give them a nimbleness that others may lack.
And while the system does have that sexy, Industrial Design look (see VentureBeat’s fawning over it), it is essentially taking the basic concepts from Anybots and using the premise from the iRobot Ava and pairing up with iPad’s video capabilities.
While it is an excellent entry into the telepresence robot space, one will have to see how they handle the issues of wifi router handoffs (since the iPad has ahold on the handling of the network), sudden accidents that cause the iPad to fall down (e.g., the Anybots had a nicely padded head ring around it) and how is handles charging without someone around to take care of the “plugging in” (see how vGo and the Texai accomplish it).
Kudos to the team at DoubleRobotics and looking forward to test driving in the near future.