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The Beam+ Telepresence Robot: A Fresh New Look and Much Lower Price

January 17, 2014 | David S. Maldow, Esq.

Things are moving fast in the remote presence game. Suitable Technologies has just released its latest product, the Beam+. Known as "Telepresence Robots" by the rest of the industry, Suitable prefers to call their Beams "remote presence devices." Philosophically, the idea is you "Beam" yourself (think of Star Trek) to a location using this device. Founder Scott Hassan doesn't want Beam users to think of themselves as robot drivers, but as teleportation enthusiasts.


Nomenclature aside, this new device is a major shift for Beam, and perhaps signals a major shift for the entire remote presence / TP robot industry. The previous model sold for $16,000. At that price it made sense as a shared resource for business use. For example, one Beam at a typical workspace could be shared by the entire team. Any particular worker who is out of the office, can use the Beam to effectively work with the team. Or a tradeshow could have a number of them available for remote tradeshow guests to use as a shared resource. But at $16,000 it was out of reach for small businesses and the consumer market.


The new Beam+ is priced at $1,995. The first 1,000 will be sold at $995 as a special incentive to early adopters. As seen in the GIF above, the Beam+ is clearly going directly for the consumer market, in addition to their existing enterprise market. I have not yet tested the new Beam+, but if the UI is similar to the original Beam (which I have extensively used), then consumers should have no problem learning and using the device.


The Beam+ has a new sleek design, which reportedly was created by Fred Bould, the designer of the Nest Thermostat, which recently sold to Google for $3.2 Billion. The device appears to have a smaller screen and footprint than the original Beam, which should make it easier to navigate around crowded tradeshows, or narrow hallways. This follows a general industry trend of smaller, less intrusive devices, and opens it up for more uses in smaller spaces.

Beam(TPO Publisher, Howard Lichtman, and your humble author, attending a trade show via the original Beam)

As you can see in the picture above, the TPO team is enthusiastic about this technology. We have written at length about the value of real remote presence with mobility and think there is definite potential for this technology to proliferate, despite the qualms of some luddites and robophobics. The technology has massively improved over recent years, and people continue to become more comfortable with the idea. With newer and cooler devices like the Beam+ being offered at game changing lower prices, we should be seeing a lot more remote presence devices deployed in the next few years.

About the Author
David_Maldow, Esq.David Maldow, Esq. is a visual collaboration technologist and analyst with the Human Productivity Lab and an associate publisher 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 visual collaboration environments. You can follow David on Twitter.

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