What is a telepresence robot?

Technology and the internet have made almost everything possible, even being somewhere when you’re not actually there. Sadly, we’re talking about Star Trek style transportation systems (at least not yet anyway) but we mean telepresence robots. But what is a telepresence robot, let’s find out!

A telepresence robot is . . .

A telepresence robot is a controllable device that functions via WiFi. It usually takes the shape of a tall, slender body on wheels with a tablet-style computer and speaker on top for audio and video capability allowing for easy 2-way communication. Telepresence robots are becoming a useful tool in the modern workplace and enable you to move to around an office of your home without the need to actually going there.

An operator can use almost any device to communicate, including a tablet, a smartphone or a laptop. Once switched on, the operator can hear the surroundings of the robot through the microphone. Operators can even speak from their side which will be played on the robots’ screen. 

How are telepresence robots being used?

Is seems that we are on the cusp of a break out for these devices as the technology to create them has become more reliable and affordable. The most common use is as an office device allowing bosses to attend meetings and have a presence in the office while they are traveling.

Telepresence vs video conferencing

It’s common to equate a telepresence robot simply with conferencing. However, video conferencing needs someone from the other side to pick up, but this is not the case with one of these. You own the control of this robot. This means that whenever you’d wish to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ someplace, you don’t need the other person to accept a call. Just log in and you’re there!

Moreover, the ability to drive around the room is only possible through the aid of a robot. Video conferencing, on the other hand, only provides a shallow view and discards any chance of virtual presence. 

But telepresence technology isn’t just limited to business meetings

Because a telepresence robot provides a pair of far-reaching eyes, they are also being used in hospitals, schools, public services, business warehouses, etc. These robots are even being used by the Police to get some extra eyes out for public safety. While this is still a far cry from Robocop due to the reliance on a human operator, who knows what the future holds.

However, one of my favorite usages was in this pop-up cafe in Japan where robot waiters, controlled by people with severe disabilities took orders and served food. While this was just a trial, there is an aim to launch a permanent cafe by the time the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics roll around. it is a great usage of technology to help badly affected people to feel closer to a normal life.

How about in the home?

Just to briefly put the focus back on how you can use a telepresence robot in your home, they can be a great way to protect your house from burglar attacks. When combined with a motion sensor, you can get an alert should any movement be detected while you’re out, and then connect to your robot to take a look around and check everything is in order at your house. After all, it was probably just your dog searching for treats.

Alternatively, you can use it to communicate and play with loved ones while you are away. Or just scare the bejesus out of them, not that that is a sensible use of a robot, but you know, it would be fun ?.

How much is a telepresence robot?

Now that you know the advantages let’s get to the price. A simple home protection robot with a one-way camera can be bought for less than $200, however, a fully functioning telepresence robot for your office would be in excess of $1500. These will ensure quality as well as proper functioning.

Nonetheless, a variety of these is available to be ordered online. But it depends on your budget as well as a task! We hope this post helped you. Until next time!

About the author

Matt is the founder of the Little Robot Shop, who has spent much of the last decade hacking home cleaning with various robots and devices to make keeping his home clean as easy as possible. Not an easy task with two young children.

When not working on the Little Robot Shop website or YouTube channel, he works as technical support and product specialist for a fast-growing digital company. He does his best to get his younglings to code, which will be an essential skill in the future.

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