Double robots pictured in a yellow-walled room.

Double Demand for the "Double"

Teleconferencing is continuing to become more expansive with emerging telepresence technologies. "The Double 2" is basically a smart device on a segway, operating as a slim mobile extension of the iPad. Its simple design makes it attractive to the consumer market, and easy to operate. Telecommunication is responsible for the robotics industry’s ever-increasing popularity. According to Jay Liew, Double Robotics' team member, they have been receiving orders faster than they can produce. Production for the Double is currently backordered three months, with 90% of orders coming from businesses. Dmitry Grishin, founder of Grishin Robotics, has donated $25 million to fund the startup project for the Double Robotics campaign. Grishin believes in personalized robots, which are fit to meet the needs of the ordinary consumer, or any business franchise that can benefit from telecommunication technologies. There is an increasing demand for internet-based technologies, specifically those which revolve around teleconferencing and telecommunication. For this reason, investments in the robotics industry are beginning to skyrocket.

Innovative or just plain creepy?

Earlier this year at the Innorobo conference a unique and strange child-size telepresence robot was on display. The Telenoid is another attempt by Japanese researcher Prof. Hiroshi Ishigoor to demonstrate tele-existance. An attempt to convey both emotion and movement through technology. I can appreciate the idea of what Prof. Ishigoor is trying to accomplish, but a robotic clown would be much less creepy than the alienesque form it currently has. The Telenoid is controlled via face tracking software to capture the users body language. At just over 10 lbs and 2.5ft in length, it has limited movement with its head, neck, and arms. There is just enough mobility to offer virtual hugs. If the Telenoid alone isn’t enough, there is a pint sized cousin called the Elfoid. This pocket sized humanoid is designed to be hand-held and is nearly identical in function, albeit with less movement. For me, they seem a bit too high on the weirdness scale, and more alien like than human or robotish. I have images of a factory like the one in “The Matrix” where future generations of robots grow these to power their existance. Tele-existance is an interesting idea, but this is a horrible execution, not much different that the MH2 I wrote about earlier.

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