A robot that improves your telepresence experience by giving you the ability to physically move around the office is close to shipping its first units.
Double Robotics sold out its first production run of telepresence robots pretty quickly back in August. The 15-pound robots have a simple and elegant design. A cylindrical bottom with two wheels forms the base, and a long shaft leads up to an iPad-holding top. Using the app, the telecommuter can control where the robot travels and adjust the height of the shaft as well.
Priced at $2,000 (currently there’s a $500 discount for early-bird customers) the robot was sold out with more than 800 orders from 45 different countries. So they have a lot of orders to get to, but were promised for “early 2013.”
With a lot of telepresence solutions focusing on improving audio and visual quality, seeing startup firms focus on adding physical movement to the mix is an interesting twist. Typically an enterprise or even a medium-sized business will focus on making one boardroom well-outfitted for teleconferencing. But that limits tele-collaboration to one style of meeting. Having a robot that can scoot around an office, laboratory floor, manufacturing facility, or retail store could lead to new styles of collaboration via telepresence.
Plus, there’s just an inherent cool factor to having a robot cruising around with a disembodied head perched on top.