The need for services like FaceTime Facelifts
represents a new hurdle for video communication. But even with proper lighting and flattering angles, the awkwardness of moving about in one's own space while video chatting remains a challenge. Botiful is a social telepresence robot that allows Skypers to follow faraway pals as they shuffle about their homes. An embedded Android device
allows users to control the bot remotely via a companion app. Botiful can also be used to monitor children, entertain pets from afar, attend large social events at a distance, and even to inspect hard-to-access places, such as underneath a car.
Telecommuters and iPad aficionados
rejoice—it's now possible to attend meetings from just about anywhere with Apple's famed tablet. Y Combinator-backed Double Robotics has introduced the Double
, a "teleconferencing robot with an iPad for a face" that can be used as a body double
. Aside from the device itself, only two iPads are needed for users to communicate remotely—one for each side of the teleconference—and the svelte setup weighs in at just 15 lbs. Priced at a healthy $1,999 for pre-order, the first production run has already sold out
, suggesting that there may be a real need for telepresence technology that’s more sophisticated than Google Hangouts.
iRobot Create Telepresence:
Gen Y is distinguished by its DIY ethos, as evidenced by everything from pop-up libraries
to self-made indie mags
. So, it makes sense that when a career move put distance between technologist Johnny Chung Lee (the now-Google employee known for hacking the Wiimote and developing the Kinect) and his fiancée, he created a customized video chat robot. Lee mounted a netbook onto an iRobot Create
, then wrote software that allows him to maneuver the device from any laptop. His ingenuity paid off in more ways than just sustaining romance: By building it himself
, he saved thousands on the cost of a ready-made telepresence robot.