Who's it for?
Double Robotics says Double is ideal for remote workers who frequently need to interact with co-workers in an office. But there was one question my fellow co-workers kept asking: Why use a telepresence robot in the first place when FaceTime, Google Hangout, Skype, and other videoconferencing packages work just as well?
A telepresence robot offers one major advantage: mobility. It allows the user to move through a workplace instead of having coworkers gather in a meeting room to use a fixed videoconferencing computer--in a production environment, having one robot moving around instead of a group of folks could be better for productivity.
One thing to consider is if the people in your work environment are even ready to have a robot in the office. There's a novelty to Double (or any telepresence robot) roaming the hallway--at least when you first introduce a robot to your workplace. People stop whatever they're doing to watch or talk to the robot, so it's initially disruptive. In my office, some people thought that having a robot in the office was evidence of futuristic thinking, but others thought it was creepy.
Granted, a telepresence robot might be a luxury for many companies--at $2500 per unit, Double is on the more affordable end of the price scale. You also need to add in the price of the iPad for Double, which isn't included, and you might also need to buy an iPad for the controller. So you're looking at $3500 (or you can buy $399 iPad 2s and save a few bucks). That's still cheaper than some other robots that have rolled through our hallways.
It's easy to dismiss Double as a pricey remote-controlled iPad toy. But with companies rethinking their telecommuting policies, telepresence robots could become a viable compromise for employers and employees. With its ease of use and relative affordability Double can fill that need nicely.
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