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MantaroBot's Telepresence Robot: New Cloud Service Allows Your Choice of VC Client

September 4, 2012 | David S. Maldow, Esq.
MantaroBot TeleMe.jpg
MantaroBot has announced a new capability which may address a major obstacle to the adoption of Telepresence Robots in the workplace. Telepresence Options has been covering Mantaro since the days of its Classic model and recently awarded its newer TeleMe the Best in Show at InfoComm 2012. We have been pleased to see the development of the bot to its latest sleek design. The big news today is that the bot is no longer tied to Skype. It now can be used with any VC app on your iPad or Android tablets, while being controlled via a new cloud service. This is significant because it makes the bot a simple extension of your existing communications network, rather than a potential headache for your IT staff.

TeleMe_iPad2_full.pngIT departments generally have security concerns when it comes to opening up a channel for video and audio traffic through their firewall. And understandably so! In particular, many business environments are hesitant to allow the use of commercial applications, such as Skype. Please note, convincing arguments have been made that Skype meets business security standards, but that does not change its perception among the business community as a consumer product.

This new update separates the use of Skype from the controller application (used to drive the bot, control the head, and point the laser). The bot still can be used with Skype, but now it also works with literally every other tablet VC app, including the one already approved and in place at your business. While your choice of VC app provides the audio and video, the controller app connects through the new cloud service and does not require a secure channel through your Firewall.

In effect, the MantaroBot becomes a natural extension of your VC environment. From an IT standpoint, adding a MantaroBot to the network is not much different than adding any other mobile VC account. If your company is already supporting a VC tablet app, then any one of your existing tablets can be used as the brains of your MontaroBot. No additional VC software or codecs required, no additional firewall ports to open. Just pop the tablet into the holder and you are ready to go. Here at Telepresence Options, we like anything that makes life easier for the overburdened IT department, so this gets a big thumbs up.

Although there are many uses for telepresence robotics, it appears to be particularly well suited for remote workers wishing to really come as close to being in the office as technologically possible. If you can't make it to the office physically, you don't have to be out of the loop, and you don't have to miss the real action when the usual videoconferencing meeting ends and everyone continues talking in the hall. The MantaroBot not only allows you to attend the meeting, it gives you a feeling of "presence" at the office.

We reached out to Mantaro about this announcement and they had a bit of a tease for us regarding future plans for tablet controller software. I am thinking that the potential for use of internal accelerometers could make this very cool.

"The MantaroBot Communications Service expands the types of devices that can be used by the remote user to control the TeleMe" says Jeremy Parsons CEO of Mantaro.  "This will free the remote user to operate the MantaroBot using mobile devices instead of being tied down to a desk chair and computer. "

In today's business world, a worker can be extremely productive while working remotely. A snow day is no longer a lost work day. Even during good weather, allowing remote work time has a long list of documented benefits, including perhaps most importantly, happy workers who enjoy the flexibility. An office with a MantaroBot can easily allow any employee to work remotely on any given day, secure in the knowledge that they can call in and be there robotically at a moment's notice.

About the Author
David_Maldow, Esq.David Maldow, Esq. is a visual collaboration technologist and analyst with the Human Productivity Lab and an associate editor at Telepresence Options. David has extensive expertise in testing, evaluating, and explaining telepresence and other visual collaboration / rich media solutions. David is focused on providing third-party independent analysis and opinion of these technologies and helping end users better secure their telepresence, videoconferencing, and visual collaboration environments. You can follow David on Twitter and Google+.

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