We mentioned Vgo, the telepresence bot, yesterday, as being possibly the first truly viable remote-working avatar robot we’ve seen, though we didn’t know much about how he worked. Then the folks at Vgo revealed some data to us, and drove the point home.
Vgo’s actually carefully scaled to be ergonomic. He’s four foot high from the ground, placing your avatar video feed at a useful height for interacting with people who are either walking around the physical office, or sitting at a desk in a meeting room. This also works when the other person in the chat is in bed, in a health care scenario, or your bot can even take part in face-to-face conferences (remember the holographic video conference in Star Wars I where everyone’s sitting chatting? Think about that, with today’s technology). With a one-foot footprint, he’s pretty maneuverable. At just 18 pounds, he’s also lightweight enough to carry around, should your office floor not be overly robot-friendly. This portability naturally raises the prospect of a new type of “where’ve you hidden Joe’s robot?” office prank, but that’s inevitable.
Vgo works over Wi-Fi, with a recommended bandwidth of at least 384kbps for good streaming of the H.264 video and audio (which pretty much means your office’s broadband is perfect), and he’s got four microphones for good all-round audio pick-up in meeting scenarios. His camera can be positioned for “any view,” meaning it can give you an in-person perspective. Finally, the dedicated Vgo app includes easy driving controls and works on any Windows PC with Webcam, speakers and mic attached.
The big take-away is that his battery life is around 6-10 hours of use, and he’ll auto-park on a charging base to juice up when needed. So he’s probably good for an entire office day of remote-working, assuming you can direct the bot to charge the battery up partially while you grab a coffee or some lunch. Did the telepresence robot suddenly become completely viable? We’ll find out for sure when Vgo’s formally revealed on June 8th at the InfoComm show.