The Intuitive and User-friendly Kubi

The table-top Kubi telepresence robot is the first stationary robot I've tried, and I came away very impressed with its user-friendliness. As with other robots, the user can adjust the horizontal and vertical positioning of the tablet camera via separate sliders, but the Kubi also allows users to point and click on the video image in order to recenter the view. In addition to options to mute one's microphone, video, picture-in-picture, or the incoming audio, Kubi users can type and send messages (as well as to save common messages or phrases to a dropdown list to reduce later typing), and save up to ten views which are automatically linked to number hotkeys. Once you've saved a view, its number will appear in a box in a column along the left side of the video picture; you can either press the number on your keyboard to recenter to that view, or you can click on the number box to do the same thing. Each number box is also assigned a different color, a nice extra touch that makes it easier to distinguish between different saved views.

What really impressed me were the options under "More Controls", represented in the upper control panel by three vertical dots. One option is to add info captions via "Show Tool Tips", which then appear as you move the mouse arrow over the various interactive options on the screen--very handy for figuring out what all the buttons and options do. Additionally, selecting "More Controls" opens an additional view on the right hand side representing the physical space of the room. Within this view there are two areas: the top area is a quadrant showing the relative positions of your saved views (reproducing the colored number boxes from your main picture), and the bottom area shows a top-down view of the office/room space to which you're calling. Within this latter area, you can draw a table to more accurately represent the meeting space, and any hotkey saved views appear here little human figures positioned around the table. A neat feature is that you can reposition these figures throughout the room or around the table, and then tweak the camera's vertical tilt for each figure to ensure that it's properly centered within the saved view.

It's entirely possible that, from my description, the Kubi looks more complex and harder to use than it actually is. The good news is that Kubis are available for immediate test drives, so you can try it yourself from within your web browser (as I did, working from my desktop). There's no need to schedule a test drive in advance or download any propietary software. Again, this strikes me as very user friendly, and perfectly in keeping with how easy it is to use the Kubi itself.

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