Teleconferencing can be an impersonal affair — all your subordinates just staring at a laptop screen, and on the screen is a window, and in the window is a smaller screen, and in that smaller screen is your face. So lifelike! You could also do the evil overlord thing where you’re projected all big on the wall (asking for one million dollars). But the approach RoboDynamics wants to popularize is what they call “telepresence,” and it necessitates inhabiting a robotic body in the room. Now, let’s be honest: the notion is a little more grand than the execution. TiLR looks like a riveter robot with a screen for a head, but the idea is sound; you can scoot around, tilt and pan its camera, and talk face to face with people in the remote environment.
Although I can’t see a boss cruising down the office halls “in” this thing, waving virtually to employees and stopping into cubicles to check in, I can see something close. It would be both entertaining and helpful for, say, a CEO who is in the hospital (for exhaustion, you understand) to participate in a factory tour or what have you, mingling with his officers and walking down the halls with them. It’s a nice vision, let’s hope it gets some traction.
Update: Doubters, eh? How do you like these apples?