Double Robotics lets you turn your iPad into a telepresence robot

[From Time’s Techland]

Double Robotics Lets You Turn Your iPad into a Telepresence Robot

By Keith Wagstaff | August 14, 2012

Tired of having to go places? Do you secretly wish you were a robot? Then a telepresence robot might just be the thing for you.

Previously, telepresence robots were fairly expensive and mostly aimed at wealthy tech entrepreneurs and people with disabilities who couldn’t leave their homes. Double is different.

At $1,999 for pre-orders and $2,499 after that, it’s expensive but not completely out of reach and it works with a piece of technology that’s fairly popular right now — the iPad.

Well, two iPads, actually. One is set in the adjustable stand to serve as your eyes and ears, while the other you use to control the robot with an app. The whole thing moves around on balancing wheels and kind of looks like a skinny Segway.

The company that makes it, Double Robotics, says it weighs only 15 pounds and is fully functional once you open the box and plug in your iPad. If it works like the company says it does (the first units don’t ship until December), it’ll be a big step in actually making robots accessible to the general public.

Double Robotics isn’t the only one to incorporate common consumer products into its robots. The initially Kickstarter-funded Romo by Romotive lets you plug your iPhone or Android phone into a dock with wheels and drive it around, letting you see whatever the robot sees. Downloadable apps will add new functionalities in the future.

Romo, however, comes in at an affordable $149. It’s hard to see too many people spending more than $2,000 on a telepresence robot just for the hell of it. But as Double Robotics points out its website, it’s definitely within the price range of a museum that wants to let people explore its collection from home or a company that wants to keep tabs on its overseas factories from its headquarters.

In fact, the idea of letting the general public use their iPads to remotely explore your business seems like a pretty fun one, especially for major tourist destinations that want to build excitement beyond just having a snappy ad or website. Hopefully Double Robotics can deliver an experience as engaging and intuitive as the company’s [1:20 minute] video makes it look.


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