So The Verge had one of it’s reporters from England (James Vincent) experience remote presence – or robotic telepresence – using our favorite low-cost device, the double.
As you can see in the attached video, he had as much fun using the device as the WSJ person did while using the Anybot in their New York office.
Couple of things we wanted to discuss here – which sadly, as a reporter uses the device, they tend to miss out on the real value of the remote presence.
Last Thursday, Orange France announced a new product offering, the Ub-y (evoking the word ubiquity), is essentially a rebranded Beam+ from Suitable Technologies. On Friday, we caught up with Laurent Marchou, Director of Open Innovation with focus on Robotics and IoT (Internet of Things) for Orange France.
While the announcement of the Beam+ is over nine months old (from the 2014 CES Show), an agreement with a major telecoms operator like Orange in a major market is quite a change in perception of the viability of the concept of remote presence.
Aside from the ability to purchase a double via the Apple Store online, there have been very few major sales channels that have taken on the risk of distributing telepresence devices. But, as Laurent described, the core functionality of the Beam (and remote presence altogether) combined with the use cases they see – all are making it obvious as part of the natural evolution of communication.
Coming off of some great press with their case study at Twitter, Team Double scored a terrific video with esurance and the Bryan Brothers.
While we have been quite critical of the prior television placement of the double, we have to give great props to the marketing team at double for their terrific advert.
Keep it up guys – the more we get out there, the more we get the visibility of the opportunities.
Recently, another player popped up in the telepresence robotics world. And that offering is the PadBot.
Now, in looking at the product, it has incredible similarities to various other players like vGo and double – a low-cost base and tablet headpiece.
But to create differentiation, PadBot is offering a couple of features that have been seen in other devices:
- Tilting Head – similar to the vGo’s camera control, the head allows for the tablet to move up and down
- Expandable Mount – to allow for various devices with size and OS flexibility
- Collision and Cliff Detection – addressing pilot mishaps, the device is to have some form of sensors to detect edges and potential collision with objects
- Light-weight – along the lines of the double, the PadBot is estimated to weigh 5 kgs (without tablet)
- Fifteen hours running time – according to their estimates, a 15 hour continuous on their light-weight battery
- Supports Android and iOS – their communication app reminds us more of Skype than anything, which leads us to wonder how they will grow the userbase
Today, Suitable Technologes and Awabot for a nice plug in a story in the FT showing the Suitable Beam assisting an engineering student at the EMLyon Business School‘s Learning Lab.
Much like Henry James’ use of the Beam to allow him traveling around the world (see his TED Talk), Simon has found it possible for himself to attend his classes just like students in the past have used the vGo to attend primary school.
After a number of months, we here at Pilot Presence got our hands on an actual double itself and have spent a good amount of time using the device for engaging in what we would call proper proxy presence – being in two locations at once and engaging in work-related conversations instead of pure entertainment.
In our reading of the evals of the other devices by other reporters, we noted that the de facto “use pattern” that is reported on is the first efforts of using the device and their shortcomings. In our case, we have intentionally used the device, knowing full well of the limitations, and working within them.
Our metric for success is not about being a replacement for a person, rather how well does the device allow for a pilot to be effective in interacting with others in a remote location? In our evaluation, we are measuring the following attributes:
- Video: how well do people see us / we see them?
- Audio: how well do we hear them / they hear us?
- Navigation: how easy is it to move around in the office?
- Physical presence: how comfortable do they feel as we are in the office?
- Social presence: how comfortable are we in projecting in the office?
Now these metrics are designed around particular use cases – where the main purpose of the device is to provide a proxy for people working with others. So, our use cases have been:
- Collaborating with coworkers on a project in a meeting
- Collaborating with coworkers in a spontaneous fashion (by their desk)
- Being available via the device for unplanned conversation
- Being “present” (seen) by coworkers and management as “being there”
By engaging in these activities, we have formulated our opinions on the double and have both pros, cons and suggestions for improvement for the next version – that we assume will be out in the coming months.
Before you begin, lets us identify that we are enthusiasts of all of the telepresence robotic products on the market today and we do have a particular affinity to the Beam Pro due to our earlier involvement with it’s precursor. Please note that the opinions and feedback on this evaluation is for information purposes only and is designed to educate and enlighten both pilots and purchasers alike.
Continue reading the Pros »
Seth Stevenson via Beam telepresence robot.
Into the inbox came the most nuanced article
about telepresence robots we have seen in a while. To us, the writer seemed to be listening to our conversations with customers and users of the Beam as well as people who have had incredibly strong both good and bad) reactions to the concept of the telepresence robot.
Seth Stevenson from Slate offers a terrific evaluation and analysis of using a Beam and the pros and cons of the usage. We highly recommend you read both pages of the article.
The Beam Pro Telepresence Robot: How it Works and Why it is Strangely Alluring
We here at Pilot Presence have an affection for people using telepresence devices and, back in March, the BBC contacted us to see if they could borrow a Beam for testing for an article from their monthly science magazine, Focus.
The ensuring article, found on news stands and on their iPad app, evaluates the Beam Pro, the double, the Kubi and the Romo.
We are happy to share a scanned-in version of the article for your viewing (if you do not have access to the iPad app) – simply make a request via the Contact Us page.
In the reporter’s opinion, the Beam Pro was the best substitute of the above solutions. But while the Beam Pro was “simple to use, reliable and quick” and is “nearly six times the price”, the reporter saw that the double likely “represents what RPDs will look like in the future, with its clever use of gyroscopes to stay upright.”
From: Editors of Pilot Presence
To: Our Readership
Re: Ads on the Pilot Presence site
Recently, our editors have been discussing how we are able to cover the costs of maintaining our site. In order to not impact our readership, we have chosen to go with Google Adsense to help our readers.
We are going to test this for a short period and if you, our readers, find the ads to be too distracting or not beneficial, please send us an email. We are reachable via the Contact Us page and would appreciate any feedback to help us understand how we can improve our coverage and (hopefully) generate revenue.
Thanks again for your readership.
Simply put, why was Scott Hassan in Vancouver? Because TED2014 was happening there – and, instead of bringing Snowden physically, the Beam offered Snowden a way of connecting via remote presence. And Chris Anderson demonstrated the excellent way of communicating as a remote person incredibly well.
UPDATE: TED puts out the video of Snowden and allows for downloads of the talk.
photo credit @jamesjoaquin
photo credit @chrisfralic