June 4, 2020


Connecting People

A tale of two telepresence robotics user stories

By the conclude of the coronavirus pandemic, people may well be ill of desktop videoconferencing, but they may well also be reluctant to travel and joyful to continue to keep operating from property. These 3 issues could enable press telepresence robotics into the mainstream.

Telepresence robotics frees buyers from the constraints of desktop video systems. At their most simple degree, they enable remote buyers to adjust the direction of a digital camera and search directly at a person throughout a conference. Devices are offered at costs ranging from less than $1,000 to $4,000 on up. It really is been a niche technological innovation, but the pandemic could adjust this.

Telepresence robotics array in sophistication. Some are loaded with sensors and can roam the office. Other people, like Kubi, are less sophisticated. Kubi makes use of an off-the-shelf tablet as a display screen and a robotic swivel managed by a remote person. Kubi, designed by Xandex Inc., a business in Petaluma, Calif., indicates neck in Japanese and lists for $600. 

Buyers of telepresence robotics report distinct levels of satisfaction with the solutions. Two buyers contacted for this tale explain their endeavours at deployment — one was successful, the other not.

Kubi, Japanese for neck

The College of Colorado Boulder deployed Kubi for classroom use and conferences. The unit is put on the convention desk, and the remote person can rotate the display screen to search at the speaker, the human being next to them or at a doc in entrance of them. Learners who are unable to show up at course can use Kubi to keep on classroom participation and their studies. The unit is managed by means of apps and widgets that function in conjunction with video and world wide web conferencing program.

Doris Cheung

Kubi presents the person “a lot more management about their practical experience,” explained Doris Cheung, a studying practical experience designer in the college IT section. But the unit also adds “an extra ingredient of humanness,” to the interactions, she explained.

Distant buyers “can have a seat at the desk and take part in the actual conversations,” Cheung explained. The pandemic has preempted any want for Kubi now mainly because everybody is attending courses remotely.

As opposed to Kubi, some telepresence robotic systems can travel during a developing. These systems can cost countless numbers of pounds. Such a technique healthy the desires, at 1st, of Common Restaurant Supply Inc.

It adds an extra ingredient of humanness.
Doris CheungUnderstanding practical experience designer, College of Colorado Boulder

Common Restaurant, which materials dining establishments with just about something they may well want, deployed telepresence robots from Double Robotics Inc., in each of its 8 areas. The plan was to lessen travel by personnel from the company office in Salt Lake Town. They use the telepresence robotics to remotely look at inventory and to even carry out interviews of occupation candidates.

Common Restaurant initially liked the consequence so considerably that Derik Stowell, the firm’s vice president of marketing, appeared in a video for the vendor in 2016 praising the technique. But there have been challenges because, he explained.

‘A frequent headache’

“Finding these robots to join and continue to be linked is a frequent headache,” Stowell explained. The vendor would correct them, “but then within just days, we are back again to square one,” he explained. It was “disappointing that the technological innovation is not fleshed out.”

David Cann, co-founder and CEO of Double Robotics in Burlingame, Calif., explained Common Restaurant was working with a previous model of the solution, Double two, which makes use of an iPad as the core part.

Kubi at University of Colorado Boulder
Kubi in use at a conference at the College of Colorado Boulder

“There were being quite a few durations of iOS bugs creating third-social gathering accessories [Bluetooth and Lightning] to not join reliably, and a quantity of clients expert problems throughout these situations,” Cann explained. But, he explained, he failed to know if Common Restaurant’s problems were being connected to these iOS bugs.

Double Robotics produced a new model of its solution, Double three, six months back that is a “thoroughly built-in remedy, with a personalized platform managing in the head as an alternative of an iPad,” Cann explained in an e-mail. “Blended with the new array of sensors, it is really a substantial improvement in trustworthiness and relieve of use.”

Common Restaurant even now makes use of the telepresence robotic systems at a few of areas, but it is really difficult, Stowell explained in a Facebook chat interview.

Upgrading all of his telepresence robots to the latest launch would call for a further $27,000 investment, he explained.

“At some place, these machines would want to have a optimistic ROI,” Stowell explained, and he would not see that occurring just before a 5-12 months mark. “We are going to have to move on with no Double Robotics,” he explained.

The telepresence robotics suppliers, Double Robotics and Xandex, explained they are observing an raise in fascination, significantly from the health care sector. But use may well well broaden to lots of kinds of enterprises. 

Kamran Shamsavari, CEO and president of Xandex, explained the telepresence robotic technological innovation was not automatically noticed as a have to-have. But the pandemic could adjust this “and form of pressure the problem — that notion adjust,” he explained.

Pandemic may well accelerate adoption

Between all those who think the pandemic will have a long lasting influence on the place of work is Kate Lister, president of Global Place of work Analytics, an HR consultancy. She estimates that everywhere from 50 percent to sixty% of the workforce is now operating from property. By the conclude of 2021, she thinks thirty% of the workforce will keep on to function from property numerous days a 7 days.

“I consider there will be lots of people who are worried to return to the ‘workplace’ immediately after COVID,” Lister explained. “I expect to see a proliferation of virtual presence innovation.”

Karen PanettaKaren Panetta

The a lot more rapid development may well be in health care, where by telepresence robotics is “a way for people to basically continue to be in frequent contact with their spouse and children and have their spouse and children monitor them as well as health care experts,” explained Karen Panetta, an IEEE Fellow and the dean of graduate engineering at Tufts College.

The sophistication of telepresence robots will increase with the addition of sensors that can detect the environment, Panetta explained. They can use sensors to detect motion or proximity, measure thermal outputs and so on.

Panetta thinks the technological innovation is in its infancy. For now, they are “assistant products making it possible for humans to go to where by they are unable to be,” she explained.