In the future, all business meetings will be conducted by telepresence robots--on-site avatar machines that will take care of the boring business of earning a living while we sit back at home sipping lattes and generally enjoying our 300-year lifespans.
Even if you don't believe telepresence robots are going to eliminate the need to get out of bed in the morning, it's hard to dismiss them as a powerful new communication tool, especially if one is waving at you while perched on someone's shoulder.
MIT doctoral student Sigurdur Orn's MeBot is a mobile telepresence bot with richly expressive gestural abilities. It's part of what he terms "socially embodied communication," which is more immediate than an e-mail or phone call.
The robot--which was displayed this week at the Human-Robot Interaction conference in Osaka, Japan--has a small screen atop a three-axis neck that displays the remote user's face, as well as two moving arms. These moving parts help convey user expressions to the other party as the bot moves around on its wheeled base.
The arms seem to be controlled manually, but the moving screen automatically tracks user head movements like nodding or shaking. … Read more