Announcing Suitable Technologies Beam Remote Presence System
The business model at Willow Garage is built on the premise that we will spin off businesses when we see near-term market potential and when we see the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives. We now have seven spin-offs, and while we love all our children equally, today belongs to Suitable Technologies.
Suitable today introduced Beam Remote Presence System, a mobile videoconferencing platform. Beam lets people be in two places at once – literally. The Beam is driven by its pilot from anywhere with an Internet connection and uses Beam as their remote presence at a different location. The video below provides a good overview of how Beam will be used.
Beam is no robot. To paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen, we know robots, and Beam is no robot. For example, there is no autonomy whatsoever with Beam. Everything is controlled by the Beam pilot working remotely.
We have, however, conducted a great deal of research on the implications of robots someday working alongside and physically sharing space with humans. That research has been incorporated into the design of Beam in order to produce a solution that will effortlessly slip into the workplace. For example, our research, (along with our personal experience) shows that it only takes about twenty minutes on average before a person forgets they are interacting with someone via Beam and begins to take for granted that they are simply having a conversation with a colleague.
By now, the story of Suitable's beginnings are familiar to anyone that follows Willow Garage. Dallas Goecker, a Willow Garage electrical engineer working remotely from Indiana, grew tired of being the lone voice on the Polycom during company meetings. Skype also fell short because Dallas needed mobility to truly interact with his co-workers. A DIY initiative known as Project Texai was created to fashion a mobile device that allowed Dallas to remotely control where and when he wanted to go within Willow's office. Texai touched a nerve in the market, and even made a guest appearance as Shel-bot on the Big Bang Theory. Ultimately, "Skype on a stick" fell short with respect to networking, navigation, and audio. The team at Suitable then went back to the drawing board.
Following 18 months of R&D, Beam offers state-of-the-art technology in a sleek RPD. We wish them the best of luck as Beam hits the market.