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The Ohmni telepresence robot is designed for your home, not your office
Most telepresence robots are sold for the slightly disheartening purpose of letting remote workers visit the office from home. But startup OhmniLabs is targeting a more wholesome market. The company says its new telepresence bot, the eponymous Ohmni, is designed to connect families -- whether that's parents on a business trip saying goodnight to their kids, or children logging in to visit their grandparents at their retirement community.
This is mainly marketing, and the basic functionality of the telepresence bot remains unchanged. But the Ohmni does seem like a good deal compared to other available bots. For a retail price of $1,899 you get a mobile robot with a built-in tablet (compare that to the $3,000 Double for which you have to supply your own iPad), and the Ohmni has a number of useful, high-end features, including an auto-docking function. (Just approach the charging dock and tap a button on the app to let the bot guide itself in).
The Ohmni's tripod-style wheelbase looks solid; it can collapse down into a small, portable package; and the moving "neck" -- which lets users tilt their view up and down, or even nod -- seems genuinely useful. It may sound like a silly feature, but the lack of body language when using a telepresence robot can be oddly restrictive. Even a small gesture like a nod can really help sell the experience.
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