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At CES 2014, Even The Journalists Are Robots

January 9, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Tech Light / Inventor Spot

In the future, robots might be a regular sight on the conference floor. Instead of watching streams and recorded video, interested parties unable to attend an event could easily find their way there without ever leaving their living room, through the wonders of telepresence. After going through a sign-up process, each user would be given control of a single telepresence robot, equipped with a screen, microphone, camera, and speakers. From there, they could pretty much go nuts. Although they wouldn't be able to physically interact with anything at the conference, they could still talk to speakers and attendees, explore the booths, and in general spend time seeing the sights.

One organization - Suitable Technologies - is jump-starting this trend with Beam: a $16,000, motorized robot which has been described as the lovechild of an iPad and a segway. Each wheeled robot has about eight hours of battery life and a maximum speed of two miles per hour; these bots are also equipped with 17-inch flatscreens that displays the user's face. In addition, the Beam's also got something known as a "Party Mode," which activates six microphones and amplifies the user's voice so it can be heard over the noise in a large room. It's able to operate via both Wi-Fi and 4G.

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