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richnass
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could come in handy
richnass   1/17/2013 9:10:17 AM
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Wow, I sure could use one of those. I guess they are price prohibitive at the moment, but that's true with most new technologies.

Battar
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Platinum
Other way round
Battar   1/17/2013 9:28:36 AM
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I need a telepresence robot to pretend to be me at home while I get some work done in peace and quiet at the lab.

naperlou
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Re: Other way round
naperlou   1/17/2013 1:24:43 PM
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Battar, you are so right.  On the other hand, right now my wife is the one who works late.  Frankly my sons appreciate the situation.

I am not sure of the actual utility of these robots at work.  If your job requires constant interaction with a group of people then this may not be the way to go.  You should probably be there.

Ann R. Thryft
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Service robots
Ann R. Thryft   1/17/2013 12:55:59 PM
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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



Elizabeth M
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New meaning to "telecommute"
Elizabeth M   1/17/2013 2:04:46 PM
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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.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: New meaning to "telecommute"
Cabe Atwell   1/17/2013 3:16:04 PM
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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.

C

robatnorcross
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Gold
Re: New meaning to "telecommute"
robatnorcross   1/18/2013 2:49:07 PM
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If you divide $16,000 by 52 (weeks per year) then 40 (hours per week) you get a number superisingly close to the current minimum wage rate. I actually like this idea. We can replace all the middle managers who really don't know much with minimum wage robots that probably have about the same knowledge. On the other hand why not just replace them (the middle managers) with ex fast food french friers.

apresher
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Telepresence Robots
apresher   1/17/2013 5:23:19 PM
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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.

Chuck_IAG
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Platinum
how capable are these robots expected to be?
Chuck_IAG   1/17/2013 5:46:33 PM
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.

Charles Murray
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A way to reduce overhead
Charles Murray   1/17/2013 6:07:34 PM
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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.

mrdon
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Gold
Re: A way to reduce overhead
mrdon   1/20/2013 7:40:49 PM
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Charles, I agree. I like the concept of using this technology for the benefit of reducing corporate overhead and personally saving money on commuting. Good way to add dollars back to the paycheck. If telepresence can be used in Distance Education, seems like a win for Work at Home Employees. Nice article Cabe!

Charles Murray
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Charles Murray   1/22/2013 8:50:47 PM
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Another relevant issue is the effect on urban expressways. Traffic on big city expressways is growing fast. Telepresence could also have an effect there. At some point in the next 20 years, I think it's going to be a necessity in some quarters.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Ann R. Thryft   1/24/2013 4:54:22 PM
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I agree with Chuck. But the so-called explosion in telecommuting that was supposed to happen in the 90s, and then the 00s, didn't. The problem isn't presence or absence of telepresence robots, or even the communication issues. I think much of it is managers not feeling in control over their employees.

Charles Murray
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Charles Murray   1/24/2013 6:58:45 PM
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You're right, Ann. Sometimes it's the soft issues that end up subverting the best-laid plans of engineers.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Ann R. Thryft   1/25/2013 11:51:18 AM
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Good point, Chuck. That's an operating principle that applies in a lot of cases.

Charles Murray
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Charles Murray   1/25/2013 3:12:25 PM
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Like, for example, Beta versus VHS? Cassettes versus eight-tracks?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Ann R. Thryft   1/25/2013 3:47:47 PM
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Wow, those *do* go back.

Charles Murray
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Re: A way to reduce overhead
Charles Murray   1/28/2013 5:30:18 PM
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You're right, Ann. I'm dating myself. I'm sure there are more recent examples of the "soft issues," but I can't think of any. So I guess Beta and eight-tracks will have to suffice for now.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: A way to reduce overhead
Ann R. Thryft   1/31/2013 12:02:58 PM
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It's OK, Chuck, I go back that far, too. Those two work for me. Nothing wrong with a little history now and then.

warren@fourward.com
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Platinum
Re: A way to reduce overhead
warren@fourward.com   2/6/2013 5:36:38 PM
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I guess my 16 2/3 records aren't making a comeback any time soon...

Ken E.
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Gold
The return of the Dickie!
Ken E.   1/18/2013 11:29:49 AM
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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.

All intriguing, to say the least.

Charles Murray
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Re: The return of the Dickie!
Charles Murray   1/18/2013 5:28:01 PM
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If we as a society are really concerned about oil consumption, your idea seems very logical, Ken E. Imagine how much fuel would be saved by keeping half the work force at home and imagine how emissions would be reduced.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Great Application in Certain Circumstances
Nancy Golden   1/23/2013 2:58:14 PM
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I just don't see them as being cost-effective. Working from home with teleconferencing capabilities is so much cheaper and I don't see what you gain from a robotic presence that you wouldn't have with a multimedia one. BUT I LOVED the application for Devon - the boy who couldn't attend school because of his allergies that would cause his personal attendance to be life-threatening. Now THAT is a worthwhile application!

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Great Application in Certain Circumstances
Cabe Atwell   1/23/2013 3:36:26 PM
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I don't think enough money is being spent in the area of technology for the disabled. When companies like Apple have $100 billion in surplus cash and spend zero in this area, I am disappointed even further.

C

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: Great Application in Certain Circumstances
Nancy Golden   1/23/2013 3:55:35 PM
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I agree, Cabe. Sometimes I think we need to stop and ask ourselves what our goals are. Is the ultimate goal of technology to improve life - or to make money? We need to find a balance because obviously R&D requires cash flow and hard work and risk deserves to reap the benefits, but if we lose sight of our humanity in the process, than we haven't gained anything.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Great Application in Certain Circumstances
Cabe Atwell   1/23/2013 4:08:33 PM
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Glad to get someone on my side.

Science!

C

Gorski
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Platinum
Telepresence robots
Gorski   2/5/2013 5:14:20 PM
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It seems a no-brainer that these robots could easily take teh place of humans in a dangerous environment where only observation was required. Controls could be remotely actuated. The robots would provide the "eyes" for personnel trained to correctly operate the controls. Their cost, in such instances, would be incidental

GORSKI PE

Gorski
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Platinum
Telepresence robots
Gorski   2/5/2013 5:14:20 PM
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It seems a no-brainer that these robots could easily take teh place of humans in a dangerous environment where only observation was required. Controls could be remotely actuated. The robots would provide the "eyes" for personnel trained to correctly operate the controls. Their cost, in such instances, would be incidental

GORSKI PE

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Telepresence robots
Cabe Atwell   2/6/2013 4:20:09 PM
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To see where we are possibly headed, see the Bruce Willis movie "Surrogates." A possible future where no one leaves their house, but instead interacts with the world through robotic surrogates.

 

C

Charles Murray
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Re: Telepresence robots
Charles Murray   8/27/2013 6:17:50 PM
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Does "Surrogates" belong on our Best Engineering Movies list, Cabe?



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