Be Here And There With The Double Telepresence

Telepresence – Be Two Places At Once

What could you get done if you could be two places at the same time? You’d never have to decide between going out or staying in, meeting up with one group of friends over another, or in the case of work, going into the office or working alone at home. You’re still on your own with the first two scenarios, but now, thanks to the Double Robotics telepresence robot, you can actually be at home and at work simultaneously. Well, sort of. When you use the Double Telepresence, you’re not actually in the office. However, this iPad-compatible robot puts your live face on the screen and moves you around the your place of work, allowing for interaction and a physical presence of sorts to keep you in the loop. You can see the office environment and chat in real time with anyone your Double rolls past.

Double Telepresence – Like Skype Meets Segway

Double_Telepresence_Robot_001The Double makes mobile video chat effortless. It uses an iPad (second generation or later, though Double Robotics recommends an iPad Air or Air 2) and its own wide angle camera, which provides a more complete view than the built-in iPad camera. Your live face is on the iPad, you can see everything and everyone the Double passes, and they can all see you. You can even adjust its height so that it matches your own, or so that it matches the eye level of the person with whom you’re interacting.

Adding to the cool factor, the Double is self-balancing and rolls like a Segway, using a series of gyroscopes to self-correct when it starts to tip. Also like the Segway, the Double is not easy to knock over; it wants to stay upright. It’s easy to drive using the arrow keys on a standard keyboard or using the corresponding app, which is compatible with iOS and later model Android devices. It has two kickstands for easy parking, and the battery lasts about eight hours after charging for two hours.

Telecommuting Improved?

Early reviews of the Double have been mostly positive, presumably because it provides a viable solution to the problem of telecommuting, namely that employees who work from home don’t have regular interaction and collaboration opportunities with coworkers. It’s industry legend that Steve Jobs designed both Apple’s and Pixar’s headquarters with lots of open spaces where employees could run into one another, start spontaneous conversations, and (if everything went well) spark the next big idea. A tool like Double makes this scenario possible even for employees who are not physically in the office.

It certainly gets noticed — who would notice a smiling iPad on a stick rolling their way? — but after the initial novelty of a telepresence robot wears off, it’s hard to say if it can truly replace physical presence. When you get right down to it, the idea is still a bit strange. Also, early reviews, although positive, indicate that the wireless signal needs to be extremely strong for the Double to work properly; if it’s too glitchy, it will definitely be a turn off.

A Solution, Albeit An Expensive One

The Double Robotics telepresence robot is still very new technology, and it will be interesting to watch how businesses use it in their workplaces. At first glance, it does look like the future of telepresence. It can help reduce commutes, saving natural resources and allowing people to work remotely while still having the ability to interact easily and (mostly) naturally with co-workers.

However, this is by no means an inexpensive device. At $2500 USD, it may not be affordable for the small businesses that could use it the most. Will the price come down? Time will tell. If you’ve got the cash or a good line of credit, the Double is currently available for purchase. Would you use it if it were affordable?

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