Teleconferences (and telepresence robots)
Next year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will take place in sunny Las Vegas from the 6th to the 9th of January. Will you be attending in person or via an electronic surrogate?
Electronic what? Yes – you didn’t misread that last sentence – many of today’s trade shows are being attended virtually by guests who, due to location-based constraints, are sending telepresence robots in their place.
Teleconferencing has been a big part of trade shows for the entire last decade, with applications like Skype making virtual conferences and remote keynotes quick and simple. But telepresence robots are something entirely new for the industry.
A telepresence robot in action
Telepresence robots incorporate HD and 3D cameras into a mobile, two-wheeled device that’s driven remotely. Think of them as like a Segway with a camera, iPad-like tablet display and a microphone mounted at the top.
The effect is incredible: you can attend a trade show remotely and do far more than just take part in teleconferences. With a telepresence robot, attendees can navigate the sales floor, chat with reps and more, all from thousands of miles away.
Innovative telepresence robots have already been put to use by some of the world’s most innovative technology figures. Earlier this year, Bitcoin pioneer Charlie Shrem, currently under house arrest for allegedly laundering the digital currency, made an appearance at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago using a robot.
Although telepresence robots are currently a favourite of the tech industry, their use extends far beyond the high-tech field. Telepresence robots have also been used by the disabled to appear at trade shows and events that are otherwise inaccessible.
Expect to see the majority of people attending trade shows in the future entirely in person, but don’t be too surprised if you run into someone attending remotely from Berlin, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney or any other international location.