In a recent blog I wrote on the growth of service robots http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=257119 a commenter asked about the difference between professional and personal service robots. The robots in Cabe's article here are a good example of personal service robots based on a design platform very similar to some professional service robots: the medical telepresence robots used increasingly in hospitals, which DN's Elizabeth Montalbano wrote about here: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=249227
Well, these robots are certainly pretty cool and give telecommuting a whole new meaning. But like some of the other comments made, I also am not sure how useful they would be unless someone's actual physical presence was really required at work. In my experience, the joy of telecommuting is that people don't necessarily get to see you while you're working at home--it sort of defeats the whole "working in your PJs" mystique (guilty as charged!). The technology itself is interesting, though, and certainly could have its valid applications.
I see these bots as more of a novelty in most cases. People who need to interact with co-workers and have to be mobile would benefit. But I think the tech concept really shines in the situation with Devon, the sick child who attends school with it. It's the best alternative to being there.
I remember when telepresence was a wheeled in tube television and a stationary camera. It's about time this exists. I just hope the price comes down in the near future. Affordable high-end tech spurs innovation. Look at the smartphone's tech bloom.
Definitely a novelty at this point in time. In order for systems like this to more into the mainstream, obviously cost is an issue, but there is also a need to target the necessary set of features that would draw a larger following (especially if the cost is still high). Very interesting concept.
I telecommute 100% of the time. On occasion I must deal with unruly coworkers. So my question is: will there be a robot available that will let me roll up to a coworker in the office and slap them upside the head to get their attention or announce my displeasure? That would be progress indeed.
Great report, Cabe. I've wondered for some time when some corporate accountants will start to decide that it's cheaper to keep employees at home because it reduces the size and overhead costs of centralized facilities. If that happens, then telepresence robots seem like the next logical step.
You can still be in your pajamas, you just need to dress from the shoulders up! Remember to blank the screen when you walk away for a cup of coffee.
I have a distant commute, but as a plant engineer often have to 'run down to the shop' to see what's what, or measure things. Someday they'll be able to not only picture, but create 3D models depending on what they see. Although I'll always have to be there some, I could see this reducing my need to be there in person in the future.
Was interesting to see the 'bot in a school setting. I wonder, was that the teacher, or a student? The end of classrooms is already on it's way, especially at high level institutions, no mobility required.
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