The rise of telepresence robots for business and beyond

Today many people use basic teleconference technology through platforms such as Skype and FaceTime, but advancements in robotics are pushing telepresence to the next level.

By incorporating HD and 3D cameras into remote controlled robots, people are able to navigate faraway locations from the comfort of their home computers.  The robots are equipped with screens for face-to-face communication and wheels for mobility.

You can even drive the robot into a charging station and re-power it remotely.

Telepresence robots have demonstrated their usefulness in the office, allowing people to work from home.

“I can actually just telepresence myself and navigate around the office, speaking to all the employees,” says David Merel, the CEO of a small business that uses robots from the telepresence company Double Robotics.

The robots are proving helpful to businesses outside the office in for conferences and trade shows, as well: “Double allows us to actually bring out some of our staff through telepresence to engage with people at the booth, also [handling] overflow.”

telepresence

Telepresence recently helped Bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem attend a Bitcoin conference in Chicago. The robot allowed him to appear at the event despite being under house arrest in New York for money laundering charges.

While impressive, these applications are just the tip of the iceberg for telepresence technology and its implications.

A Chicago woman with paraplegia took part in the Chicago Disabled Pride Parade this past weekend by navigating a robot from Orbis Robotics from her home computer. She previously used the robot to work at an American Legion conference as a spokesperson for Orbis.

Such robots could give home-bound people the opportunity to visit other places and perhaps even hold jobs in fields like sales, where face-to-face interactions could be conducted through screens.

The technology could open up career paths for many people who have never considered working outside their homes as a viable option and give them financial independence.

How can telepresence continue to develop? If the film Surrogates holds any shreds of accuracy, we will turn telepresence robots into humanoids that perform all of our daily tasks and interactions for us and live out our entire lives remotely, with Bruce Willis as our only saviour.

However, this grim view of the future seems unlikely, especially when you look at the distinctly non-human form of the current models.

As we hone telepresence technology, hopefully it continues to allow people to experience the world in new ways rather than limit them to life through a screen.


Featured image: screenshot from Surrogates (2009). Body image and video courtesy of Double Robotics.


Wishing you a futuristic Christmas and a fantastic New Year from team Factor

Factor is taking a break for the Christmas season, but we’ll be returning in January for more futuristic news and features.

Until then, check out our stunning new digital magazine, which is free to read on any device for your future fix.

From the issues of today, to the future of tomorrow and beyond, there’s something for everyone, from flying cars and Richard Stallman on privacy to life in the 22nd century and the space colonies of the future human race. There’s even a look at the Christmas dinners of the future.

And if you’re still looking for presents, check out of bumper futuristic gift guide for ideas to suit every budget.

Merry Christmas, and see you in 2018!

FCC votes to repeal net neutrality rules

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service on certain content. The FCC’s net neutrality rules were originally passed in 2015.

Doctors say Haemophilia A trial results are "mind-blowing"

Doctors say the results of a gene therapy trial into haemophilia A, whose suffers don't produce a protein needed to stop bleeding, are "mind-blowing". Thirteen patients given the gene therapy at Barts Health NHS Trust are now off treatment with 11 producing near-normal levels of the protein.

Source: BBC

Scientists use stem cells to make paralysed rat walk again

Scientists have used stem cells from an adult human's mouth to induce spinal cord regeneration in a rat. This effectively created a pathway circumventing the injured area so that instructions from the brain could reach the rest of the body, curing the animal that was previously totally paralysed.

NASA uses AI to find new exoplanet

Researchers have announced the discovery of an eighth planet orbiting the star Kepler-90. The discovery of Kepler 90i was made when researchers on the Kepler planet-hunting telescope teamed up with artificial intelligence specialists at Google to analyse data collected by the space-based observatory.

AI engine AlphaZero's win will "scramble" chess world

Having beaten the world's the highest-rated chess engine Stockfish, world champion chess player Viswanathan Anand believes the AI programme AlphaZero will change the way humans play the game. "We've got a clean start and the implications are very interesting," said Anand.

Source: ESPN

Following criticism, animal shelter fires security robot

A San Francisco animal adoption agency will immediately stop using a controversial security robot. The move comes after the San Francisco SPCA had been criticised for its deployment of a Knightscope K9 to mitigate vandalism and the presence of homeless people at its Mission District office.

Source: Ars Technica