you, robot

by:Merttace     2020-03-19
Tim Root sits in Nashua\'s cubicle with a few clicks of the mouse, guiding a tall white robot to the corner and through the door of the conference room.
Root\'s face is visible on the small screen where you expect the robot\'s head to be.
He said hello and was attending a meeting.
Root\'s cubicle and meeting room are all within the headquarters of Vgo Communications.
The company was established in 2007.
But the company has allowed people to \"transfer\" from distant China to its robots, the premise of Vgo is that the robots
Enabled \"remote rendering\" is exactly what the video conferencing business needs: a way to get somewhere without getting on a plane is much better than simply showing up on a wall --mounted flat-screen TV.
Early next month, Root\'s company will launch a product called Vgo at the Las Vegas trade show.
In order to design and release products, the company (
Originally called North End Technology)
More than $8 million in venture capital funds have been raised, most of them from Castile Ventures at Waltham.
But Vgo will soon face competition for at least two West Coast starts.
Plans to start selling ups for their own video conferencing robot later this year.
Being able to scroll down the aisle of the production facility or cruise to the cafeteria for lunch chat is completely different from trekking to the conference room for a scheduled video conference, Gen said.
\"We want to build a device in another place that can represent you,\" he said . \".
\"When you roam around, you can have a temporary interaction with it.
\"As the chief technology officer of PictureTel Corp, Root began to consider the opportunity to adopt a new, more mobile video conferencing approach.
He is an early manufacturer of video conferencing systems in Andover.
But until he met Grinnell Moore, an alumnus of iRobot.
The company is really beginning to take shape.
\"Many robot experts are trying to make a robot, throw a camera and a microphone on it, and say you can use it for video conferencing,\" Root said . \".
\"We want to see from a communication perspective how it really supports the conversation.
\"They developed an elegant, two.
A wheeled robot shorter than a floor lamp;
Looks like it could be Pixar\'s future film Wall-E.
Vgo not only created the robot, but also created software running on a desktop or laptop to control the machine and communicate through it.
Vgo plans to start selling robots for $5,000 next month through a network of video conferencing distributors like Marlborough
Companies everywhere. ;
A mandatory maintenance and support contract will cost $1,200 per year.
By using the arrow keys on the mouse or computer keyboard, the robot is easy to boot.
When you start moving, the camera is automatically turned off on the floor so you can see any obstacles and there are infrared sensors that will tell you when you will hit something. A downward-
Keep looking for stairs or ledge for sensors to prevent falling.
The robot has two speakers built in and four microphones light up green indicating that you are listening to the program in the room, or that you are red when you are in a \"mute state.
When you need to see something at a higher resolution
For example, like text on a whiteboard --
You can take a still snapshot that is quickly downloaded to your computer for careful inspection.
But video conferencing is still not perfect: even in a demo in the Vgo office, Root is talking about the company\'s efforts to create the \"world\"
First class hardware and software, \"the image on the robot screen will freeze, the audio will appear garbled, and the lips of the speaker will be out of sync with his voice.
The video conference is still waiting for its \"Jazz Singer\" moment when everything is good enough to impress people reliably.
Earlier this week, video conferencing robots developed using Willow Garage
A Silicon Valley company that plans to bring its \"Texai\" products to market later this year, I have gained some experience in using robots for a long time
Remote communication.
My home in Cambridge I \"dialed\" a robot parked at Willow California headquarters and listened for a while, a company executive demonstrated a humanoid robot of the company for a room of reporters.
It was easy to see and hear his voice when he spoke to the group, but later, when the room was divided into a dozen uncoordinated conversations, I suddenly felt like an 80-year-
The old man in a noisy restaurant.
It is impossible to figure out what people are saying, or to know when there is a suitable opening to ask questions, or to draw anyone\'s attention by calling them.
But by walking around the room, I have a richer feeling of \"being there\" and I will have that feeling just by watching a live webcast. (
Willow has not yet priced for Texai, which has a larger screen than Vgo. )
With Willow Garage, another Silicon Valley startupGet up, Anybots Inc.
Founded by one person
Time Cambridge entrepreneur Trevor Blackwell has announced plans to start selling $15,000 video conferencing robots this fall.
Brad Kayton, chief executive of Vgo, said the company has been testing about 40 potential customers in universities, manufacturers, call centers, healthcare providers and retailers
Kayton said a senior executive at a chemical company was able to monitor experiments at various company labs without having to jump on a plane.
I spoke with two analysts about the potential of the robot video conference.
Rob Enderle, technical analyst at Enderle Group, who wrote about the slow spread of traditional video conferencing systems, said, \"The closer we get to simulating there, the better the travel will be.
But Dan Kara, president of Robotics Trends at flamingham Publishing, said, \"I don\'t like mobile TV very much.
How can it be much better than having someone on a remote site carry a netbook computer with a free Skype copy with them?
Interestingly, a decade ago, a beginning
The up, known as iRobot, launched the robot video conferencing system at the exact same price as Vgo ($4,995)
In exactly the same place (
A Vegas trade show).
Co-founder Colin Angel told me at the time that if the company \"doesn\'t sell thousands next year,\" it meant he would be disappointed in 2001.
But iRobot never put this device into production.
Not enough homes or offices have wireless networks yet, and the company needs a lot of orders to make a profit for $4,995.
\"I don\'t think we\'re wrong with robots and video conferencing,\" co-founder Helen Greiner said . \".
\"It\'s just far ahead of its time.
\"Vgo\'s roots believe it\'s time: he recalls the moment the phone was liberated from the car and suddenly the consumer could carry the phone with him.
\"Now, anyone over the age of 8 has at least one mobile phone,\" he said . \".
Ironically, if Vgo and two iRobot veterans are at 20-
Individual team, not just start to compete with two West Coast
But now iRobot is a public company with about 500 employees in Bedford.
Although iRobot has not announced any plans to return to the robot
Conference arena, Angle wrote in email
We always think that the right product and the right price will be an exciting market.
We continue to conduct research and experiments in this field.
\"Scott Kirsner can be contacted at kirsner @ pobox. com.
Follow him on Twitter @ ScottKirsner.
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