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IPad Gets A Set Of Wheels

posted 28 Jan 2013, 11:47 by Mpelembe   [ updated 28 Jan 2013, 11:47 ]

Silicon Valley start-up, Double Robotics is taking Apple's IPad mobile. The company has developed a mobile platform it says brings a new perspective to remote interaction

while helping companies cut costs.

SUNNYVALECALIFORNIAUNITED STATES (RECENT) (DOUBLE ROBOTICS) -  Imagine strolling through the halls of an art gallery located half way across the world, from the comfort of your home. Or being able to listen to, and interact with, colleagues on the move in another office. According to Marc Devidts, President and Co-Founder of Double Robotics, both scenarios are now possible. His company has developed a tele-presence robot, using Apple's IPad as the eyes, ears and brain.

"We decided to offload a lot of the development on to the IPad and just build wheels for it. So then really what happens it that you just take your IPad and snap it into the top of this robot and now the IPad becomes your face and you get to drive around from anywhere in the world," said DeVidts.

Company CEO, David Cann, says the robot can be operated by remote control over the Internet. An operator can drive the robot and adjust its height, allowing for interaction with operators elsewhere in a more natural way.

"The core technology is an accelerometer and gyroscope and we do some sensor fusion on that and then we out that output into a really advanced algorithm and that controls the motors and the wheels," he said.

Cann says this system keeps the robot balanced. If it starts to fall, the robot self-adjust, presenting a multitude of potential applications.

"The main features are that you can call in and have a video chat just like a Skype or a Facetime call but at the same time you can drive around. You can move yourself from one office to another or you can walk along a production line in a factory or you can walk around a classroom," Cann added.

That capability, says Cann, comes at a relatively low cost. Priced at 2500 (USD), he's aiming at companies who are looking to trim their travel budgets. Devidts adds that there are benefits for the remote employee as well.

"We miss out on things if we are a remote worker. We want to feel more empowered and be able to get out of the conference room and go to listen to the conversation that is happening at the lunch table or the by the water fountain or something like, the kitchen and that is what we do. We give them that option."

And that option is proving attractive to buyers. Just 18 months old, the company says it has pre-orders sales of 1.8 million dollars. The first orders are scheduled to be shipped out in the next few months.