Double Robotics leverages Apple's iPad with Double remote telepresence robot

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A necessary byproduct of living in the future ? as we do ? appears to be the occasional bit of tech that is simultaneously very cool and remarkably impractical. Normally retailing for $2,500, and requiring the investment of at least another $500 to function, Double Robotics' Double telepresence robot fits squarely into that category. It is pretty fun to watch, though.

Double


The Double is a sleekly designed set of motorized wheels with an extensible iPad stand, sort of like a Segway for your favorite Apple tablet. In theory, a user attaches one iPad to the Double, leaves it wherever they can't/won't/don't want to be in the near future, and ? when it comes time to interact with people remotely ? fires up another iPad to control the robot.

Double Conference


The iPad attached to the Double displays streamed images ? like a user's face ? from the second tablet's front facing camera. Movement is controlled by an accompanying app.

Double Standing


In action, the Double is entertaining to watch, and it appears to be well engineered. The demonstrator would occasionally push the Double to show its ability to maintain balance. It moves and turns quickly, and the variable height of the attached pole ? also controllable by the iPad app ? means you can look people in the eye from a remote location.

Double Face


Here's the thing, though: watching the demonstration over the course of about five minutes, I overheard several people ? either leaving the display or passing by ? say something to the effect of "That's really cool, but what would it be good for?"

Double's webpage for the device says it would be applicable in offices for remote teams, school campuses, manufacturing facilities, and so forth. It also raises the possibility of families using the device "to stay more in touch" and retail stores using it as a mobile kiosk. Considering the two-iPad requirement and the necessity of using one iPad to pilot the device, its utility is up to interpretation.

Double Back


It's also just the slightest bit creepy. There's just something about a face on a screen, gliding toward you on what looks like a Segway.

Still, the Double secured a Best of Show nod at Macworld, and for good reason: it's a well-designed and functional device. It may still be a solution in search of a problem, but it's very fun to watch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member


    Mellow greetings, Lenina Huxley. 


     


  • Reply 2 of 22
    "Trick or treat."
  • Reply 3 of 22
    19831983 Posts: 1,224member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post



    "Trick or treat."


    Yes, there was something like this on a Halloween episode of Southpark.

  • Reply 4 of 22
    Big band did it first, the shelbot
  • Reply 5 of 22
    If it were more affordable, my company would have purchased a unit for each of our offices. There isn't a need for them, but it would serve the purpose to explore the other office to see who's around and where instead of interruptive phone calls or having a big brother video system, but really because it'd be neat and a fun way to do so. I don't know how long the novelty would last.
  • Reply 6 of 22


    We saw this in a video at an Apple keynote, didn't we? That was a while ago, I think. 


     


    Cut the price on this to something piddling and I'd get one just for fun.


     



    Originally Posted by ssls6 View Post

    Big band did it first, the shelbot


     


    But Apple inspired its doing far more elegantly.

  • Reply 7 of 22
    I could see a real estate company using one of these to show a house (assuming you could pilot from any ipad (vs. having to be paired).. or even a web interface.

    it's no substitue for a physical visit, but you could use it to get an idea of a home/apartment (yes, stairs are a problem) before you decide to go to the open house - plus you could use it outside the open house hours.

  • Reply 8 of 22


    Welcome!





    Originally Posted by Vera Comment View Post

    I could see a real estate company using one of these to show a house (assuming you could pilot from any ipad (vs. having to be paired).. or even a web interface.


     


    See, there are so many uses for something like this! We saw the museum telepresence one in the Apple video, but there's an entire world of uses. 


     


    You can't say that this "wouldn't have been possible without the iPad", but you CAN say that no one even dared to consider it before the iPad existed. I hope to see these in many more places.

  • Reply 9 of 22
    afrodriafrodri Posts: 190member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    You can't say that this "wouldn't have been possible without the iPad", but you CAN say that no one even dared to consider it before the iPad existed. I hope to see these in many more places.



     


    I'm not sure that is true. There have been a number of telepresence robots available for a few years now:


    https://www.anybots.com/attack-of-the-telepresence-robots/


     


    This seems to be a little cheaper than some, but the concept is pretty much the same (remote controlled robot with a video screen, camera, and mic), just with an iPad.

  • Reply 10 of 22


    Originally Posted by afrodri View Post

    I'm not sure that is true. There have been a number of telepresence robots available for a few years now:


    https://www.anybots.com/attack-of-the-telepresence-robots/



     


    The only one of those that even approaches the price of this is the one that also requires an iPad to work. The rest is proprietary tech stem to stern, which kicks the price to the $6-16k-per range.


     


    The iPad made them affordable and spearheaded bringing mobile teleconferencing out of the executive boardroom.

  • Reply 11 of 22
    afrodriafrodri Posts: 190member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    The only one of those that even approaches the price of this is the one that also requires an iPad to work. The rest is proprietary tech stem to stern, which kicks the price to the $6-16k-per range.


     


    The iPad made them affordable and spearheaded bringing mobile teleconferencing out of the executive boardroom.



     


    Like I said, this device is cheaper, but the core concept is pretty much the same. People did 'dare to think about this' before the iPad, the iPad just made it cheaper. 


     


     I do hope that this becomes cheaper and more common. If it could cut out some travel for site inspections it could save a lot of money for companies (and travel grief for employees). If it were an order of magnitude or so cheaper, I could see this being fun for personal use (I expect a vast outpouring of 'mobile telepresence units chasing cats' videos).


     


    There are some other projects in development which should brings the price down even more:


    http://technabob.com/blog/2012/09/19/helios-iphone-telepresence-robot/


    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1452620607/botiful-telepresence-robot-for-android

  • Reply 12 of 22
    bgrhbgrh Posts: 4member
    I live in San Antonio and am the Chair of a company in Massachusetts that during the summer runs three different summer programs in different places. This kind of mobile presence is Skype on wheels - you figured out how to use Skype right?

    The question is, how do I push the elevator buttons?
  • Reply 13 of 22


    Personal "robots" will catch on when and only when they can either perform sexual acts.  Until then they are a curiosity.

  • Reply 14 of 22

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bgrh View Post



    I live in San Antonio and am the Chair of a company in Massachusetts that during the summer runs three different summer programs in different places. This kind of mobile presence is Skype on wheels - you figured out how to use Skype right?



    The question is, how do I push the elevator buttons?


    You don't find it disrespectful to interact with employees in this way?  

  • Reply 15 of 22


    Originally Posted by Junkyard Dawg View Post

    Personal "robots" will catch on when and only when they can either perform sexual acts.  Until then they are a curiosity.


     


    Worked for Blu-ray and VHS. image

  • Reply 16 of 22

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Vera Comment View Post



    I could see a real estate company using one of these to show a house (assuming you could pilot from any ipad (vs. having to be paired).. or even a web interface.



    it's no substitue for a physical visit, but you could use it to get an idea of a home/apartment (yes, stairs are a problem) before you decide to go to the open house - plus you could use it outside the open house hours.

     


    That's interesting. Real estate could leave a robot sitting in a locked apartment and let people look around. We would have used it recently (no matter how many photos you take you miss something). 


     


    Of course there are complications!

  • Reply 17 of 22
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    You don't find it disrespectful to interact with employees in this way?  

    Why? What makes you think that every interaction with executives needs to be in person? Why is this any more disrespectful than Skype - or even a phone call, for that matter.

    In fact, it's possible that this would lead to MORE interaction with employees (I've seen Skype do that). Instead of being able to visit a facility once a year (due to time and budget constraints), the executives could stay in touch on a frequent basis.

    I could see a real estate company using one of these to show a house (assuming you could pilot from any ipad (vs. having to be paired).. or even a web interface.

    it's no substitue for a physical visit, but you could use it to get an idea of a home/apartment (yes, stairs are a problem) before you decide to go to the open house - plus you could use it outside the open house hours.

    I wonder how long before we see it in a movie. I could picture the evil villain who doesn't like human contact sending one of these around to give his henchmen their orders.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bgrh View Post



    I live in San Antonio and am the Chair of a company in Massachusetts that during the summer runs three different summer programs in different places. This kind of mobile presence is Skype on wheels - you figured out how to use Skype right?



    The question is, how do I push the elevator buttons?




    Why do we need Skype on wheels when everyone has Skype in their pocket or on their desktop PC?

  • Reply 19 of 22
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member


    I wonder if this infringes on Segway's intellectual property, as it too employs the inverted pendulum control system to remain balanced.

  • Reply 20 of 22
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    The only one of those that even approaches the price of this is the one that also requires an iPad to work. The rest is proprietary tech stem to stern, which kicks the price to the $6-16k-per range.


     


    The iPad made them affordable and spearheaded bringing mobile teleconferencing out of the executive boardroom.



    I don't know about that. There have been embedded computers with GUI below $1k well before iPad came along (many based on QNX, interestingly). What they lacked was the suite of apps on the iOS platform. Skype, for example, wasn't available. So what iPad brings is not affordability but rather social functionality, IMO.

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