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Who Needs To Leave Home When You Have Beam Remote Presence

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 13 comments

Here's the future of sales -- using a remote presence from afar rather than an actual human.

While rushing to make my interview with MHL and MOGA at CES, I was stopped by an approaching robot to my right. There were actually three, and a crowd had gathered around to see what the talking, rolling machines had to say. Once I paused to take a proper look, I realized they weren't robots at all, but rather monitors on wheels.

Suitable Technologies was showcasing its Beam Remote Presence, a device that actually lets you move and communicate with others without having to leave the home or office. It stood under six feet, comprised of a moving base with wheels, and a display with two built-in cameras mounted on two support beams.

As I approached the booth, it moved towards me and said "hello, how's the show?" The display featured the operator's face, an attractive booth girl loading up the charm to sell the product. Naturally, I fell for the trick, and began chatting away to this thing with a girl's cute face.

On her end, the girl said she was siting at her PC somewhere in California. She could move the Beam device simply by using the directional keys on her keyboard. The actual social interaction seemed instantaneous, and she said that communication is done over Wi-Fi or mobile 4G.

The device can turn in place, and moves fast enough to keep up with a walking person. When I would move around "her," she could follow, and when when I thought I was standing out of sight just behind the device, she said she could still see my purple shoes thanks to a camera mounted on the bottom of the monitor, pointing down.


Applications for this type of device would include attending a meeting remotely, or allowing someone who can't travel a chance to see the sights without leaving the confines of their wheelchair, bed, or home. The Beam device didn't look sturdy enough for hazardous environments, but we imagine it's only a matter of time before a rugged version arrives.

Pricing starts at $16,000, and more information can be accessed here. Here's a list of the relevant specs:

* 17-inch screen, so your face is human size
* 1.58m (5' 2") frame, so your body is human size
* Top speed of 1.5 m/s (3 mph), so you can keep up
* Two wide-angle HD cameras, for full visual awareness
* Six-microphone array with noise reduction and echo cancellation, for full audio awareness
* Powerful built-in speaker, so you will be heard
* Two dual-band radios with proprietary roaming algorithms, for seamless WiFi connectivity
* Industry-standard encryption of all communication



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  • 13 Hide
    guru_urug , January 11, 2013 2:54 PM
    Reminded me of Sheldon from the Big Bang theory
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    guru_urug , January 11, 2013 2:54 PM
    Reminded me of Sheldon from the Big Bang theory
  • -7 Hide
    guru_urug , January 11, 2013 2:55 PM
    Reminded me of Sheldon from the Big Bang theory
  • 1 Hide
    Mastashake15 , January 11, 2013 2:59 PM
    This will do more harm then good.
  • 1 Hide
    Lord Captivus , January 11, 2013 3:00 PM
    $16,000!!!! WOW!!!
    Its a monitor on wheels!! Give me a break.
    The concept is good, and I think it is Step 1 (office with real people and monitors)
    Step 2 everybody stays home, Skype call or something.
    I partially agree with the benefits for people that cant move around.
  • -7 Hide
    Lord Captivus , January 11, 2013 3:01 PM
    I posted but the comment didnt not typing it again...SORRY!
    It started with something like this: $16,000!
  • 5 Hide
    merikafyeah , January 11, 2013 3:09 PM
    Reminds me of that Halloween episode of South Park where they cart around an iPad to represent Stan, who was stuck in Blockbuster. Hilarious.
  • 5 Hide
    festerovic , January 11, 2013 3:32 PM
    I already saw this movie. It was called Surrogates, with Bruce Willis. Spoiler Alert: They all go back to walking around like humans.
  • 0 Hide
    basketcase87 , January 11, 2013 3:36 PM
    1.58m (5' 2") frame, so your body is human size
    You'd think they would want make it a more average human height. Especially when you consider that you aren't going to be at the top of it, so you're probably sitting at more like 4'8".
  • 0 Hide
    odd_enough , January 11, 2013 4:46 PM
    I never consider something to be very well thought out when the first thing I think about when I see it is Demolition Man.
  • 2 Hide
    plekter , January 11, 2013 6:15 PM
    Reminds me of Surrogates to be honest.
  • 0 Hide
    rbagany , January 11, 2013 11:27 PM
    Demolition Man?
  • 2 Hide
    odd_enough , January 12, 2013 3:24 AM
    Re: Demolition Man

    The video conference screens. All they could do is rotate, but still looks remarkably close in design.
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , January 14, 2013 5:37 AM
    Wait till apple patents it and claims it has invented it