Over the last few years videoconferencing and telepresence systems have become pretty common place for most enterprises.
A Palo, Alto, Calif-based startup, however, has literally began rolling out a product that puts videoconferencing on a mobile platform and allows users to wheel away through the office or factory floor even if they’re actually thousands of miles away in a different location.
The Beam Remote Presence Device (RPD) from Suitable Technologies a 62” tall, 95-lb, two-wheeled, motorized robot that’s topped with a 17”screen. The device was exhibited at the South by Southwest 2013 conference in Austin, Tex.
The RPD is equipped with two wireless radios to handle online transmissions and transitions between access points. Two high-definition cameras provide the user with a horizontal and vertical 170 degree field of view. LED lamps enable operation and navigation in low light conditions, microphones and speaker systems have noise reduction and echo cancellation features.
The Beam Client connects to the RPD and provides the user with controls for driving, video and audio. The proprietary client is available for download for both Windows 7 and Mac OS X operating systems.
The RPD allows a remote user not only to hold videoconferences in a single room, but actually operate the device to move around the office or facility at speeds of up to three miles per hour and make a 360 degree turn as this video demonstrates.
A third component of the system is the Beam Dock, an on –premise charging station where the user can direct the RPD for recharging.
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“Technology has progressed to a point where physical location no longer has to dictate the presence of a person,” said Scott Hassan, CEO of Suitable Technologies. “But our goal is to develop a system where an individual can travel instantly.”
He sees the Beam RPD being deployed in companies that employed dispersed workforces where collaboration and communication between individuals from separate locations is done frequently.
The RPD is being sold for $16,000 per unit exclusive of installation and other startup costs.
Suitable Technologies has closed less than 100 contracts so far and among the early customers are Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp. and Mars Food Ltd.