Wednesday, July 28, 2010

You Now Can Be in Two Places (or more) at Once, not tomorrow or sometime in the distant future, you can own a robot that IS YOU, and he/she can be located anywhere in the world (with internet), giving you real time video, audio and other information from “your” other location.  This new machine gives you something called “telepresence”

A new company called Anybots is selling the “QB mobile telepresence robot”, which is a moving AV cart of sorts with a LCD screen on top...comprising the head, on which a still or video image of YOU runs in real time.  The head also serves as a control panel for, among other things, a slide show you might want someone to see or maybe the latest from The Weather Channel.
I travel for business quite a bit....and for the most part would like to avoid it.  We have been using web conferencing for a few years now to cut down on our travel, and it does have a positive impact.  However, as they have always said, nothing beats being there...face to face.  So what if you could sort of split the difference...
The QB Bot thing (that is you), is 5-foot, 9-inches, and weighs in at 32 pounds. This is a great weight for a women with an eating problem, but doesn’t do men justice.  Kitty says that the video of your face would allow some Photoshopping for weight loss, but I had to remind her that the camera adds 10 pounds as well.
The rolling QB bot combines several computers, the Internet, mobility, and some “self-awareness and autonomy”.  It is designed to replace the frequent phone calls, instant messages, and even some video conference calls that distant co-workers have to make to stay in touch and keep on top of work and ongoing projects.  
Here's the geeky stuff:  The bot rolls around at up to 3.5 mph (approximately human walking speed) on two, 12-inch wheels and is self-balancing, sort of like those Segway things.  Its got a Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, (making it smarter than the you already) and captures video though its 5-megapixel eye and audio through is super sensitive microphone, delivering it to a browser-based interface on any computer.  

I would order mine with a kick-ass Bose sound system as well.  I want to be heard clearly where ever I am.
One user of the robot says, "We're putting QBs in the manufacturing facility and logging in remotely so we can 'walk' down production lines and meet with engineers and talk with them. It's an interesting use-case scenario—so you can have a remote presence in China or Taiwan," where, obviously, many America companies manufacture products. this case, you could speak and understand Chinese as well.
Anybots plans to ship QB sometime this fall and is clearly targeting the business market. At $15,000 a pop, they say it's unlikely that anyone would look at as a virtual physical presence for an always-on-the-road parent.  
Au contrare, I think at that price point they will sell all they can make.  Think of all the things you could be doing right now if you had QB bots deployed all over the globe.  
I would keep one in Paris to crawl the museums non-stop and occasionally enjoy a virtual cigarette at a corner bistro with an eye “video camera” trained to the local talent that would be sashaying by.  
I think of would have one of me FedEx’d to large sporting events...surely there would always be room for another monitor and opinion in the press box.
I believe that keeping one of myself in Amsterdam would be a good use of the product as well.
Well I am up to three...maybe I can afford a fourth.  Oh yeah...I would put one in LA in our office there....but mostly just to stare out the window.

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