There’s something cold and impersonal about the telephone — like the inability to get in a coworker’s face and tell him exactly how little you think of him. But MIT’s MeBot ensures your icy-cold stares, interested nods and quizzical glances will never fall on deaf ears again.
Using a Web cam and a specialized software package, MeBot conveys all your nonverbal signals via a tiny desktop robot. The idea is to increase the level of communication between parties by relating all those nonverbal cues; MeBot can capture nods and shakes of the head or changes in the direction of your glance, reproducing them via the robot sitting on the other party’s desk.
If you lean toward the speaker in an interested fashion, the robot leans in as well. It mirrors hand gestures so you can pat coworkers on the back, point an accusatory finger or simply throw your hands up in disgust. And since MeBot is mobile, the user can roll around a conference table or desk engaging more than one person in a conversation at a time while controlling interpersonal distance. Which means if needs be, you can get in someone’s face without flying halfway across the country to do it.