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March 11, 2012 AT 11:58 am

What Does It Say When a Robot Is the Life of a Party?

Pt 767

What Does It Say When a Robot Is the Life of a Party? @ WSJ.com.

When Richard Garriott de Cayeux threw a costume party the night before his wedding in Paris, his 82-year-old mother dressed up as an Indian princess and attended as a robot.

Helen Mary Garriott wasn’t strong enough to make the long trip from her home in Las Vegas. So Mr. Garriott de Cayeux went looking for alternatives. The one he hit upon was a portable robot about the size of a canister vacuum cleaner with a telescoping neck, binocular-shaped eyes and a screen for a forehead.

More people are using telepresence robots that allow humans to be right there — even when they’re far away. WSJ’s Andy Jordan checks out one San Francisco space with a regular office mate in Brussels.

The staff at his Austin, Texas, computer games company Portalarium Inc. tested it out, then shipped it off to the wedding. And, voilà!, his mother was in Paris—virtually.


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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been on both sides of these ‘bots and they’re very nifty. As an operator the interface is super simple, the camera has a nice wide field of view, and it even corrects the video for the wobbling motion of the 2-wheeled bot. On the receiving side the audio is crustal clear and loud.

    All isn’t perfect wit telepresence bots though. People tend to treat them like bots, not people so they’ll walk away in the middle of a conversation, sit their drinks on them, push them around, hit the E-stop button, etc.

    And you have to have automatic doors if you want to leave the room.

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