This afternoon, we got a press release that was quite intriguing.
Suitable Technologies Retains Willow Garage Talent to Further Develop Beam Remote Presence Technology
Palo Alto, Calif., August 21, 2013 – Suitable Technologies, Inc., has retained a majority of employees from Willow Garage, Inc. to increase and enhance the development of Suitable Technologies’ Beam™ remote presence system. Suitable Technologies will use the combined resources to further product development, sales and customer support.
Our take? It seems to be a good deal for both companies. Willow Garage, over the past few months, has been working on becoming an independent venture on its own. But since most of the scientific and innovation talent has gone to do their own endeavors (Open Source Robotics Foundation keepers of ROS, Industrial Perception, hiDOF, and Unbounded Robotics), Willow was becoming more of a keeper of the PR2 flame and not able to keep such infrastructure afloat.
Bringing the two groups together (which Scott Hassan has been the head of both for sometime) gives Suitable their home once again (the predecessor of the Beam was created there) and a staff that are already versed in build and maintenance of robotic systems.
Seems like the obvious solution to the potential loss of an icon.
About three months ago, we were asked to research a possibility of helping a company provide an entertaining experience going telepresent from their homes in the US to Italy. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we competed in an internal contest to get the project, but unfortunately – we did not succeed.
Today, the San Pellegrino company posted on Facebook their “Three Minutes in Italy” adventure. You should try it out yourself – but note that it only works during daylight hours!
So it looks like the medical rationale is beginning to heat up interest in the remote presence space (or “virtual presence” as Anybots and Sheldon call it). In time for the American Telepresence Association 2013 conference, Anybots and Polycom announces a partnership to offer the Polycom medical video solution.
The intriguing question is, can a partnership between Anybots and Polycom compete with the likes of InTouch and iRobot? InTouch has spent countless years developing a remote presence solution that brings the doctor directly to the hospital bed of a patient, whereas Anybots is providing a solution designed for nurses and PAs to offer after outpatient services to reduce readmission rates.
The question is — will this be a valuable market? Only time will tell.
Six years ago, Sybase developer Ivan Bowman decided to learn to telecommute from his home to his office in Waterloo, Canada. Once of the funnier aspects of his commute was a collection of videos he and others developed for the potential antics of a telepresence employee.
Here is the first of four videos that show off some of his humor (or humour for you Commonwealth people):
Sometimes, we see interesting stories in the media — and not just on major news networks or websites. This article was found in a local newspaper in North Vernon, Indiana and shows yet another place for remote presence to make a difference. The original engineer behind the precursor to the Beam, Dallas Goecker, demonstrated the RPD at his parents hardware store in central Indiana. The photo and the article is quite nice — covering all of the points that explain the Beam quite well.
How can you be in two places at the same time? Dallas Goecker does that, in a way, every work day.
I went to meet Dallas at his parent’s store, Goecker Building Supplies, in North Vernon the other day. We talked face to face and eye to eye, joked with his mother and father, Don and Marsha and walked around the store together. I also took a few photographs of Dallas with his parents.
Funny thing, though, Dallas wasn’t really in North Vernon. He was 15 miles away in Seymour.
Through an ultramodern marvel that Goecker helped create, a Beam Remote Presence System, he was in essence in two places at once.
“Wow, that is amazing,” said one customer at the northside store who saw the robotic-like device while I was there. Other customers were also doing double and triple takes.
“The people coming in this morning seem to like it,” chuckled Don Goecker, a justifiably proud papa.
If you are one of those who wishes they could help in the next robotics revolution, follow up here and apply with your CV (resume for you Americans!) firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include the following:
Resume with references
One paragraph summary of research background
List of published papers, currently submitted papers and patents
Last week, we were visiting the 3rd edition of the InnoRobo Conference — an interesting gathering of robotics companies showing off their wares to both the general public and various investors and corporates.
Companies that showed off their wares seem to breakdown into five general groupings:
vacuum cleaning robots (or base robots),
larger humanoid robots,
military or recon robots,
general robotic features that can be used separately or in conjunction with other systems (e.g., arms, hands, cameras),
and other aggregators/distributors of robotic solutions.
But, in our exploration of the event, one of our team wore their Willow Garage jacket they owned from a previous era. In doing so, a great many people would suddenly come up to us and say “How is everything at Willow Garage?” or say “I heard things are changing at Willow Garage, all good?” After informing them of the former employment with Willow, we asked what was causing such a strong reaction to the change they heard about.