CeBIT: 'Telepresence' robot makes waves at tech fair

Mar 02, 2011
The robot "Jazz" by French company Gostai is pictured at the CeBIT, world's biggest IT fair, in Hanover, central Germany. "Jazz" is a shiny white humanoid robot that its makers believe could transform business meetings and reduce the need for long-distance travel.

Many visitors walking around CeBIT, the world's biggest high-tech fair, have found themselves bumping into "Jazz", a "telepresence" robot also ambling around the vast expo.

Created by French firm Gostai, "Jazz" is a shiny white that its makers believe could transform business meetings and reduce the need for long-distance travel.

Controllable by anyone with access to the Internet via a laptop or even smartphone, "Jazz" projects its user's presence, showing his or her face on its own "face" and speaking in its user's voice.

Launched only two months ago, "Jazz" could easily deputise for a manager in a business meeting, or tour a factory or shop floor, both recording and beaming back what it sees to its user, said Gostai employee Segolene Roche.

"The main advantage over is its mobility," she told AFP.

It can run for five straight hours -- at around four kilometres (2.5 miles) per hour -- without needing to be recharged and returns to its charging station when it runs out of juice.

Visitors walk past the robot "Jazz" by French company Gostai at the CeBIT, world's biggest IT fair, in Hanover, central Germany. More than 4,200 tech firms from 70 countries are expected to attend this year's CeBIT, with many of the big names that stayed away during the global financial crisis returning to Germany.

A sleeker, slightly more sinister, black version is also available to serve as a robot security guard.

This , quiet and faceless, can be programmed to prowl around a factory or warehouse and alert the authorities if it detects people up to no good.

"Jazz", which is making its debut at an international tech fair, is yours for 7,900 euros (10,900 dollars). Its beefier security counterpart will set you back 1,000 euros more.

More than 4,200 exhibitors are showcasing their latest wares at the , which is expected to attract some 350,000 people before it shuts up shop on March 5.

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