Telepresence robots designed by Suitable Technologies have been providing a number of remote workers with a physical presence at their workplaces via a variety of features, including video cameras, speakers and microphones, while the wheels on the unit allow users to see, hear, talk and "walk" even across faraway locations.
One such person is Dallas Goecker, an engineer who, while sitting at his desk in Seymour, Indiana, can easily attend meetings, collaborate and communicate with his colleagues – and roam the office building at his company in Silicon Valley.
The fact that Goecker isn't in California and is more than 2,300 miles away has no bearings thanks to Beam, a mobile video-conferencing machine which he drives around his company's offices and workshops in Palo Alto. Beam is a five-foot-tall device designed with a large video screen that provides Goecker with a physical presence at his workplace.
“This gives you that casual interaction that you're used to at work. I'm sitting in my desk area with everybody else,” Goecker said in a statement, while talking about Beam. “I'm part of their conversations and their socializing.”
Along with Suitable Technologies, there are a number of other companies that design and manufacture telepresence robots like Beam. While the availability of a variety of communication tools and capabilities such as smartphones, e-mail or video conferencing has made it possible for an increasing number of employees to work from remote locations, none of these technologies do not provide an actual physical presence.
With the availability of Telepresence-robot, this gap has now been effectively bridged. These wheeled machines controlled over wireless Internet connections now provide remote workers with an actual physical presence at their respective workplaces.
Because only a small number of organizations use these telepresence robots, manufacturers of these units have not yet gone mainstream with their offerings.
Challenges that these machines present include high costs, difficulty in navigation in places such as staircases and elevators etc., and poor Internet connectivity, which can literally render the devices useless.
Priced at $16,000, Beam certainly does not come cheap. According to Suitable Technologies, however, the variety of features included in the unit provides the remote worker with a physical presence in the room via robust set of speakers, highly sensitive microphones, and extensive wireless connectivity.
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Edited by Braden Becker