To outline the impact a new telepresence robot could have on various industries.
(refer to pic on left)
1. A circular screen that curves around the sides to give it the look of a person’s natural face contour.
2. The whole body on the robot will be an inflatable balloon. This is to create the impression of an actual person being physically present.
3. Grippers that use granular jamming technology is utilized. This ensures that the grip is strong while being cost effective
4. A four degrees of freedom robotic arm would be attached. This would be controlled by a gesture controlled armband similar to Myo (https://www.thalmic.com/en/myo/)
5. There would be 4 wheels, two on each “leg” to ensure stability.
6. (not on pic) Would be collapsible so as to make it portable. When collapsed, a person would be able to carry the whole device as you would a briefcase.
The problem with similar products on the market:
1. Currently are too expensive
2. Lack a certain “human touch” as they look too much like a head on a stick
3. Lack usability (currently only being used in office spaces and the likes)
4. Need assistance when it comes to opening doors and charging
Sectors a telepresence robot could impact:
i) Students can study from home, teachers can teach from home. As everyone knows, education is a great enabler. But the problem is, access to education and teachers is a luxury many cannot afford. (http://www.bmz.de/en/what_we_do/issues/Education/hintergrund/bildungsituation/) This is due both to a problem of money and manpower. Some countries simply do not have the teachers necessary to support their population. A telepresence robot has the potential to greatly aid this problem.
ii) The natural thing to say now is that it could be done even now by teleconferencing technology (Skype, FaceTime, GoogleHangout). Why the need for a telepresence robot? To answer that, lets imagine a scenario where students are in a classroom and the teacher is teleconferencing: the teacher would assign the students some work but would be unable to help the students or check on their progress as there will be 20 students in the room and the teacher would not be able to monitor them as he/she would be if he/she was physically there. However, with a telepresence robot, she would be able to “walk” next to each student and provide one-to-one attention if need be. The thing to remember is that the telepresence robot is a second body for a person, an avatar, if you will.
iii) This could even be utilized in remote villages where access to good teachers is scarce. The device would be battery powered which means its fully electric. The obvious question is, how would a device like this be powered in a village with no electricity? The answer could lie in a technology developed recently called Gravity Light (http://deciwatt.org) This is a technology where electricity is generated by the force of gravity. The mechanics are simple: a sizable load is hanged on one side of the device and its slow descent converts rotational kinetic energy into electrical energy, which in turn powers the light bulb. But instead of the lightbulb, we could modify the product to provide electricity to the telepresence robot. Alternatively, it could be solar powered.
iv) The obvious question now would be, how would the villagers have the expertise to handle such a complex piece of equipment? They don't need to. That's the beauty of it. The telepresence robot can be controlled from anywhere with an internet connection. So, a person with an internet connection in say, Iowa would be able to control a telepresence robot in Somalia.
v) The next question is, how would villagers who lack access to proper sanitation and living conditions afford internet? This is a little tricky. One of the things that could be done is to work in tandem with Project Loon by Google. This is an effort by Google to provide internet access to even the remotest areas with the use of "wifi balloons".
(please look at the virtual tourism paper)
i) A telepresence robot will enable people to work from home and still maintain a virtual presence at work. This would be different from just doing your work at home or some other place. It entails that the person would be at the workspace or office for all intents and purposes. This is as they would be able to move around independently and attend meetings and even participate in watercooler talk.
ii) Academicians regularly attend major conferences all all over the world. Having a telepresence robot would render it unnecessary. Think of all the money that could be saved on flight, lodging, and food.
How would a telepresence robot be of use to the average consumer:
Imagine being able to “walk” with your best friends to school, or attend family gatherings, or even have conversations with complete strangers; all within the comfort of your own home. That is the power of mobile telepresence. A telepresence robot gives a person a second body that can be used to go places that he/she could not go or does not have the means to.
The cheapest telepresence robot on the market now is $2500. (There is one for $300, but it will not be considered because it is incredibly small). If this product could be developed for between $500 and $1000, a strong financial argument could be made in its favor.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.