Hot on the heels of Comic-Con came Siggraph, the annual conference for people involved with computer graphics and interactive design. Stevo Bedford, a 3-D designer visiting from Vancouver (credits include Superman: Man…
Hot on the heels of Comic-Con came Siggraph, the annual conference for people involved with computer graphics and interactive design. Stevo Bedford, a 3-D designer visiting from Vancouver (credits include Superman: Man of Steel and Akira), wrote us that the most amusing thing he’d seen there was the Beam Remote Presence System, where your face is teleported on a Segway-like contraption (left) and you move yourself around remotely from your computer.
It’s like a skype monitor on a remotely controlled robotic ‘trolley,’ explains Stevo. “It’s intended for remote working and interacting. You would be visible on the screen and could talk to people.”
At the moment Beam, developed by Suitable Technologies and first launched last year, comes with a price tag of $16,000 but, says Stevo, “I think the main idea is that big companies with multiple offices would use it . You could ‘stroll’ the hallways and hang out at the water cooler. Otherwise I guess they are exploring how it might used.”
He adds, “I would emphasize that having remotely managed a business previously, I can see the benefit of any technology that helps communication go beyond the usual phone calls, email and instant messaging, to encourage more of the informal chat that can be a valuable way of sharing ideas.”
Is the idea that one day it could replace job-related travel? Fortune declared recently that remote robot workers would be a must-have for every office by 2020.
But could Beam be used in other situations, like taking the place of a disabled or sick person at an event they are not able to physically attend? Could a workaholic dad or mom attend a kid’s soccer game? Or could couch potatoes “beam” themselves to the streets of foreign countries?
Stevo recollects the movie The Surrogates, which is set in a future where people experience life “through beautiful, remotely controlled robotic humanoids, often participating in dubious activities. Meanwhile, the real person stays at home in bed or on the sofa, wired in to to a computer terminal. Is the “Beam” the first step in that direction?”