Walking iPads to move into telepresence robot market (w/ Video)

August 15, 2012 by Nancy Owano report

(Phys.org) -- Your body double is at a last-minute convention huddle, exhibition, all-staff meeting on another continent, and you are in control. Such is the dream, to be in a work age that commonly includes telepresence and excludes the need to fly or take a train every time there is an event you need or wish to attend. Such is the reality, in a new device from a Mountain View, California, startup, Double Robotics.

Founded in 2011, Double Robotics is placing its product on pre-order, and it is an iPad-based platform called Double. This in essence is your “,” a mobile base with mounting bracket for the iPad, a robot imbued with technology that allows you to ask and say and learn what you want while being inhabited in the Double.

The fifteen-pound device is functional out of the box once plugged in. and Double's self-balancing sensors keep itself upright. Once you log into the iPad it lets you travel throughout the room, decide which height, and talk to people. Setting up Double app involves downloading the app. The same app is used for the driver's iPad and the robot's iPad. Connecting to Double happens by tapping its icon, which will start an interactive video call. During the call, you can maneuver the driving controls. According to the site’s instructions, you can drive from an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or desktop web browser. Streaming two-way audio and video allow conversations with others. The Double app uses a video service for iOS-to-iOS calls from OpenTok.

An important feature is that the iPad can be extended vertically from three and a half to five feet to maintain eye level with people sitting or standing. As the company video indicates, this increases the comfort level of the person speaking to the Double device.

The device has a self-balancing dual wheel base. The Double can move around for a full work day on one charge. An internal rechargeable Lithium Ion battery provides up to eight hours of normal use. Double is able to recharge to full capacity in about two hours, using a provided AC to DC wall adapter. When not in motion, the device automatically deploys kickstands.

The product could also amend the concept of teleconferencing, which has limitations in that many modern-day collaborations are more fluid and mobile in nature. A Segway type device could spell the difference in being able to visit a lab, participate in an international project, witness a remote museum exhibit, and more. Double would, in simple terms, enable any worker to communicate with remote teams.

The price for Double is relatively low in the telepresence robot category. The pre-order price is $1,999, excluding the iPad. A user would need to provide the iPad, and it would need to be second and third generation. First generation iPads are not supported because they lack a camera.

Founders include David Cann designer and iOS developer, and electrical/embedded systems engineer Marc DeVidts. The company operates out of Mountain View, and fabricates robot components from its shop in Miami, Florida. The product will ship to customers in December.

Explore further: Apple says shipment of new iPad may take 2-3 weeks

More information: www.doublerobotics.com/

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Aug 15, 2012
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not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
I wonder if they have plans for it to work on an Android tablet or phone? I can't wait for a cheaper Chinese clone.
3 / 5 (2) Aug 15, 2012
I wonder if they have plans for it to work on an Android tablet or phone? I can't wait for a cheaper Chinese clone.

Porting it to android should just be a matter of porting the app. As for a chinese clone, would you really want a double that falls apart as you talk to people?
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
If successful in volume look for a future version that allows folks with 2nd homes to patrol and view their residences remotely. Add a motion sensor that swings the camera towards the source and a running upload of say the last 30 minutes of video to the net for security purposes. Folks who can afford multiple residences can pay for piece of mind gadgetry. Put your "old" iPad on it.
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
Security firms can make use of them but they will need less blind spots and better audio and of course security apps to stop them being stolen themselves.
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
This is pretty creepy, if you ask me. "Dave. What are you doing, Dave?"
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
My initial comment "Oh my, you look slim in that" was removed as being 'off topic'. I stand castigated.
The point I was making is that as a "body double" this device would be disconcerting, presenting a disembodied talking head that glides around on a stick. It's just so... skinny. Bulked up, it might better pass as a virtual person.

The idea is clever, but presenting its primary function as being a simulacrum of the self is, I suspect, overly optimistic. As Trim points out, they will likely serve best as security and surveillance tools. And for this, a wider-angle and higher quality camera would improve functionality. Limiting the device to just i-Pads severely limits its potential facility.
not rated yet Aug 15, 2012
I thought your comment was funny and apt.

Of course one could view the double with augmented reality glasses so you could see a more lifelike body,

A Chinese clone of the double could be comprised of a printed photograph and smartphone on a bamboo pole on top of a radio controlled model car plus an app to put it all together.

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