For some reason, telepresence--the concept of having your person (in audio and/or video form) represented by some kind of machine while you are physically elsewhere--has lent itself to extreme goofiness. It's not really a goofy idea, and yet we've seen squishy larval phones, shoulder-mounted robots, the Anybots robot (which recently ordered coffee in a Palo Alto shop), and now this blimp-like thing from Sony that projects your face onto what's essentially a motorized balloon.
Today at Stanford's Robot Block Party, we are running around inside an Adept Robotics MT400 robot, from the comfort of our desks in New York. We can see everything the robot sees, and so can you, right here.
Getting up for class or an early meeting always goes the same way: you get out of bed, and it goes downhill from there. But if a couple of researchers from Stanford and UC Santa Barbara are correct in their new book, in a few years we’ll all be meeting in virtual classrooms and conference rooms anyhow. This isn’t just the same old future hype, they say; technology has caught up with the vision, and the age of the avatar is imminent.
This Thursday, April 14, PopSci is going to get down at Stanford University's Robot Block Party in California, from the comfort of our desks in New York City. How? We'll be using the latest technology in telepresence, steering an Adept MT400 mobile robot around the party via a wireless connection.
Most telepresence robots are geared toward providing the user with a remote presence in the workplace or home. TEROOS, a shoulder-mounted telepresence robot developed by researchers at Keio University and elsewhere in Japan, is making telepresence more of a social experience.
Larvabot is baaack ... and now it’s in your pocket, giving a whole new meaning to the vibrate setting on your cell phone. The new Elfoid telepresence telephone tickles its owner when it gets a call, wriggling to transmit your head and face movements, along with your voice, to the person on the other end of the line.
Johnny Lee wanted a telepresence robot, but he didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars for one. So he did what any good hacker would do: bought a netbook, bought a roomba-like iRobot, and built a simple one himself for about $500.
The long-gestating Anybots telepresence robot finally started shipping this month, and now we can see it out and about in the wild--"the wild" in this case referring to a coffeeshop in Palo Alto, California.
With telepresence robots serving as stand-ins, there’s no reason for sick kids to miss school. Some children may prefer to skip class, of course, but for those with serious immune system disorders, telepresence ‘bots are a lifeline to the outside world.
Will 2011 be the year we finally welcome robots into our lives? We're already well on our way, as the brilliant animators at Next Media Animation show us in this video. And their proof comes straight from the pages of PopSci.