iRobot announces availability of Ava 500 to “regular” customers

Fresh off a trip to CES (back in January), it looks like iRobot is reacting to market forces and announcing the “availability” of the Ava 500 in time for the Enterprise Connect Conference in Orlando.

We have discussed the Ava 500 a number of times in the past and will have our assessment of the device soon, but for the benefit of iRobot, we are happy to share the announcement video for the Ava 500.

Only thing: availability may be limited since the listing is not on the iRobot site, and according to the press release, only available through select Cisco resellers and/or distributors. And since finding those resellers might take time (we looked for Yorktel and could not find them) — and the process of getting everything signed off for the proper purchase of the device might take anywhere from three to six months, we believe that “delivery” is still two quarters away.

h/t to Engadget

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PilotPresence at MIPIM 25

mipim2014-logo-25-years-338x80-blackThis past week, the team from PilotPresence visited Cannes, France to demonstrate their two Beams and a double at the London Stand with Canary Wharf at MIPIM 25. Due to the generosity of the team at Level39, we were able to show both the concept of piloting from locations in England and the US while allowing the MIPIM visitors to experience “remote presence” in the pantry of Level39.

london-standUnlike a typical tech conference, MIPIM is showing some of the world’s investors and property developers the future building efforts in locations around the world. With the Beam and double, PilotPresence demonstrated the possibility of remote presence to investors and developers around the world. As you can see, the Beam made quite a spectacle.

If you are visiting from MIPIM, feel free to connect with us via our Contact page.

h/t to Susan Freedman @propertyshe

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Double and EE makes it to the BAFTAs with Fanbots [video]

Now here is one of those amazing situations where a marketing effort goes incredibly well.  Unlike the appearances on The Good Wife or the Colbert Report where the double comes off somewhat silly, EE (the 4G carrier in England) created a chance for two of their subscribers to use two doubles dressed up as reporters on the red carpet, engaging celebrities on their way to the BAFTAs.

In all honesty, this is the perfect video to show how people are getting exposed to the concept of remote presence.  And what a way to do it.

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Suitable announces a little Beam (or actually the Beam+)

Last week, at CES, we stopped by a number of the remote presence booths and caught up with the teams at Kubi and Double, but the surprise of the trip included a slight shuttling into Suitable’s private room at their booth. After a brief delay, Scott Hassan pulled back a white sheet with a flourish and there stood three new devices for demonstration.

Suitable Beam+

Beam+ wanting to join your family

The Beam+ seems to be Suitable’s answer to vGo’s offering and Double’s play using the base technology of the original Beam and to offer a more family-friendly play (as seen in their promo photos).

The Beam+ stands about 4.5 feet tall and supports many of the same features of the original Beam (including the same motors, microphone array and control software), technical improvements (including HDR-based camera and a higher-resolution screen) and cost reductions (including one wifi radio instead of two, a smaller physical screen size). Upon launch, Suitable plans on having the specs for the Beam+ at this URL: https://www.suitabletech.com/beam-plus/

And, in a move that is sure to annoy other players in the space, Suitable is offering the regularly priced $1995 Beam+ for a pre-order reduced price of $995 for the first 1000 pre-orders. Suitable is preparing to ship the pre-orders in the third quarter of 2014, but rumors have it that orders will roll as soon as manufacturing gets going.

Now we wait to see how the enthusiasts react to the Beam+. See the Suitable press release after the jump.
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Finally! Pilot Presence meets double — in the flesh!

Readers – in our recent travels, we were walking along the edges of the Hard Rock Casino at the Robotics on the Runway, sponsored by CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) and Living in Digital Times and we ran into the team from Double Robotics.

For the first time, we got a chance to chat with David from Double where we discussed the origin story of double robotics. Instead of repeating the story, we learned that Tech Toys 360 on the Discovery Velocity Channel has a terrific video that presents the origin story along with additional details and visuals on the “innovative device”.

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UPDATED: Anybots shows off their Q(X) Virtual Presence

Wow – when the Xmas season happens, all of the players come out with new toys. Polycom had their XmasHoliday Event last week and Eliane Fiolet happened to capture a couple of snappys of Anybot’s newest device – the Q(X).

courtesy of ubergizmoWe are thrilled to see the team at Anybots are pushing for a platform play (our assumption on the use of the Q-sub-X designation) and hanging on the Anybots Q(X) platform, they have a bunch of the Polycom kit (see the Polycom mic here). Based on the past announcements with Anybots and Cisco, we assume that the Q(X) platform will be configurable with other telepresence video solutions in the near future.

From the photos, we see a couple of pieces of other kit:

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Spotify Engineer experiences Remote Presence and lives!

With all of the increased visibility of the double on TV (see the double in action on The Colbert Report), what is missing is a first-person account of the use of the double.

Courtesy of one of our readers, we were alerted to a great article by a Spotify Engineer Henrik Kniberg discussing his use of the double for a Lean Tribe meeting in Stockholm.

Waiting for everyone elseWhat is notable about his experience is the issues of being a “drunk tetraplegic with bad hearing and a weak voice”. The challenge with most of the remote presence systems on the market today is exactly the issue he focuses on the most.

Tetraplegic, because I’m effectively paralyzed from the neck down – the double doesn’t even have legs or arms. I could see and hear, and I could roll around like in a wheelchair. But slowly and carefully, and I sometimes needed assistance when things got in the way.

Sometimes I got assistance, even when I didn’t need it, which felt both good and bad at the same time. Gradually people noticed that I could get around quite nicely myself, with some patience. I can’t turn my head, but I can turn my whole vehicle from side to side to see what’s going on. Of course, I don’t know what it’s really like to be a tetraplegic but I guess it’s probably something like this.

Drunk, because that thing sways quite often to stay in balance, and sometimes bumps into things or trips on small objects and falls flat on it’s face (happened only once, but it felt horrible).

Bad hearing and weak voice, because of the background noise in combination with my rather limited microphone and speaker. I often couldn’t follow the conversation going on, and people had to lean in close to hear what I was saying.

Now, the real challenge with the double is not the application — since the locomotion system is excellent. But given the limitations of the iPad and the network, along with the inverse pendulum, it is still an interesting connection.

This report is reminiscent of the video on the NYTimes regarding “Robo-Beltzner” and how individuals interacted with the remote presence device at Mozilla.

The fun will come when double offer an alternative to the iPad and handle the various issues that currently make the situation still amusing, rather than a norm.

h/t to @hkanji

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Try before you Buy? Suitable comes up with their own viral marketing campaign

One of the biggest frustrations with the remote presence / telepresence robot business is getting the first mover in a company. Once a device has made it into the company and the concerns are overcome, companies inevitably decide to purchase more of these devices. But how do you make it achievable for companies to purchase these devices without having to carry a cost that requires budget approval.

Hassan offers the LoanerSuitable Technologies thinks they have a solution to the problem. As of the 3rd, Suitable is now offer a fully-featured Beam – with docking station and network services for a starting price of $4950 and a monthly rate of $574 which includes shipping throughout the Continental US.

So, you ask “How is this a trial program?” Well, for your first payment of $4950, part of the payment ($2581 of it) is actually a deposit. If the Beam that is returned is as-new with minor wear-and-tear, then the payment should be returned. If there is any damage, the cost of repairing is taken from the deposit.

How long is this “trial program”? According to Hassan at Suitable, the program is a 36 month contract that, at the end of 36 months, a one-time payment of $100 will transfer ownership of the Beam to the original lessee.

In asking Hassan about this plan, the overall cost of the Beam is now brought to slightly over $25K for the full three years. But the goal is not to lease Beams to the world, rather to give a taste of the product to interested buyers who can easily use a credit card to make the purchase and bring it into the corporate realm.

“The magic number if $5000 – if your product costs more than that, then there are corporate hoops to go through.” says Hassan. “Bring it under, and the adoption rates go up.”

But a good thing is not for every purchase and not necessarily forever. The Beam Corporate Leasing Program is only good for up to five Beams and may be terminated as an entry program at any time. So, if you are looking for a chance to Beam into another location, then here is the opportunity.

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Suitable takes Grand Award Winner from Popular Science

frickin laser beamsFar too funny. For some reason, PopSci thinks that the name Beam means “fricking laser beams” with their depiction of the Beam as the Grand Award Winner in the 2013 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science magazine in the Hardware category.

Check out the article — and the image in the link: http://www.popsci.com/bown/2013/product/suitable-technologies-beam
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Did Unbounded Robotics release the White Horse of the Apocalypse?

You know their lawyers made them say this...Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”

So last night, Unbounded Robotics finally released their product, for the upcoming RoboBusiness Conference tomorrow (did you get yourself a Beam?).

While the title is provocative, the joy of seeing what we remember fondly as the PR3 is nice to see come to life. Melonee and her team from Unbounded have devised a beautiful alternative to the $400K system (which, in our estimation cost on the order of $200K+ to build) to a $35K device out of the box. Simple, easy to use if you are a frequent ROS user, and a system that has many similarities to the original PR2.
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