Robot Visits White House

In honor of the ADA's 25th anniversary
Telepresence Robot

Alice Wong was President Barack Obama’s first telerobotic visitor when she maneuvered her robot to meet the Commander in Chief on Monday.

This was her view:

Wong is founder of the Disability Visibility Project, an organization that aims to record the stories of people with disabilities. Wong was visiting the White House to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which Obama spoke about after they met. Her robot of choice was the BeamPro, which allows users to control its movements via their computer and have their face projected on the video monitor. According to the project’s site, Wong was the first such visitor to the White House.

Popular Science has been using telepresence robots for years. Our former editor in chief Jacob Ward wrote about using them in 2013 when he was living in California, 3,000 miles away from our New York offices.

Today, Information Editor Katie Peek, Ph.D., uses the BeamPro to telecommunicate from Washington, D.C. (Sidebar: During my first staff meeting, I had to contain my considerable excitement when she wheeled into the room, and it was the first thing I told people about when they asked how my first week here was). I wonder how long it will be until telepresence robots are no longer surprising and just become another part of the workplace, even if that office is the Oval one.