I run homebound services for a large school district in Texas. We have searched for many different solutions to bring our homebound students into class. We tried most of the roaming telepresence robots and they all just did not work how we hoped. We always ended up needing to have a Bot Buddy to walk alongside if not carry the robot. When we found Kubi, we were like that was exactly what we need. With the first students we tried it out with, they were so happy that it felt like they were in class, that they could interact and participate in class again. The integration with Zoom Video Conferencing is what really sets it apart since that is the tool that we use district wide for all video communications. Kubi is so easy to use with Zoom. By adding on a directional microphone and speaker, the homebound students are able to hear great even when there is group work going on with lots of discussions. And, Kubi is naturally a directional microphone positioner so whoever the remote student is looking at is who they are listening to. The Revolve Staff have been very supportive with questions that we have had and with helping us figure out our unique set-ups.
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I want to start by mentioning that setting up a demo with the Revolve Robotics team was an absolute pleasure – they responded to my request in less than an hour and were extremely pleasant and helpful. I had a lot of fun testing Kubi – due to the simplistic design of the robot, there weren’t many functions to explore, but my conversation with the team kept me engaged and amused. I have to say, the fact that not only one, but three people from Revolve Robotics spent their time telling me about their product absolutely puts this brand’s customer service on a whole new level – I’d give them 10 stars, if I could.
As for Kubi itself – it’s basically a tablet (Apple, Android and Microsoft with Bluetooth 4.0) on top of a rotating stand. Although it may seem a bit boring, compared to the mobile telepresence robots, a stationary machine actually has numerous advantages. Our conversation had great quality all throughout the demo, as the Kubi didn’t move around, losing the WiFi signal. The video conferencing platform we used for the demo was Zoom. This program has integrated the Kubi software, allowing the user to turn the robot sideways. I wasn’t able to tilt the head, although it’s going to be possible in the near future. A great plus is that there’s no limit to the people using a Kubi at the same time. The robot can be controlled by every person in the conference call by requesting it. You can rotate the head up to 300 degrees and since you have access to the camera at the back of the tablet, your view is 360 degrees.
The fact that Kubi is stationary drastically lowers the price of the robot, although it still fulfills the main function of a telepresence robot – effective communication. You don’t have to worry about a robot roaming the halls, getting stuck in impossible places, casually running over people and falling down stairs. Although this limited autonomy could be a problem for some, it also means endless run time (if Kubi is placed near a power source), virtually no way of damaging the robot, simple interface that can be taught to anyone and hundreds of dollars saved.
A couple of interesting features are the automatic activation, as well as the ability to record the motion of the robot and create presentations. Kubi works with video apps like Vidyo, Zoom and Webex, as well as specialized equipment like EMR systems and connected telehealth applications. The robot has a battery life of 4 hours, so even if it’s not plugged in, you have plenty of time.
Here’s a simple list of pros and cons that sums up the review!
+ High quality connection
+ Amazing customer service
+ Simple interface, easy to use
+ Light and easy to move
+ Safe for everyone
+ Can work with various programs (and telehealth apps)
+ Endless runtime
+ No way to damage the robot
+ Automatic activation
+ Ability to record the motion of the robot
- Limited autonomy
- You need to own a tablet
- You need to download a video app
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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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This is a great device that gives you only what you need to. I used Kubi doing an interview and it is way better than a traditional video chat. Since I was in control to pan and rotate my view around the room, I could follow the conversation better. I also didn’t have to worry about typical navigation problems like driving off stairs or running into anyone. The interface was easy to learn and simple to use. The point and click feature worked well so I could avoid holding down on any buttons. I tend to talk with my hands, so holding a mouse sometimes gets in the way. PROS: Great value for the cost,
Easy navigation interface, Works with iPad, Android, and Windows tablets. CONS: Doesn’t charge tablet.
If you’re looking for a basic telepresence unit, this would be the one. Simple and effective, the Kubi is a great device for home or office use.
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We just needed something to improve our interoffice communications - better than video calls with Skype, better than our full on Cisco suite, Kubi lets us drop our woman in the field anywhere in the office. She can look around and talk to talk of us.