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Double Seeks to Improve Telepresence Concept with Double2

January 14, 2016

Double Robotics recently unveiled the latest model of its telepresence robot, the Double2. Its new features will allow the unit to maintain better balance while moving over cords and other obstacles on the ground.

The new model also has nearly double the ground speed of the previous model and an improved camera kit option allows for a better field of view.

Burlingame, California-based Double Robotics, Inc. develops telepresence robots that resemble Segways with iPads attached to the top. Through WebRTC technology, the remote user has a view of the room wherever the Double2 is, while people in the room can see the face of the remote user on the iPad screen.

These robots take over where the usual videoconferencing systems left off. Not only can users enjoy the benefits of videoconferencing, they can also move around within the building where the videoconferencing takes place.

Double points out on its website that much of the communication in an office is ad hoc, so remote workers would normally miss out these discussions, leaving them completely out of the loop on some potentially important matters.

Double robots are also useful in educational settings. The University of Montana’s Department of Educational Leadership (DEL) has used them in classroom settings. The devices became an attractive solution because of several factors. The university is located in a rural area of the state, making it impractical for many students to attend in person.

These students are not the typical undergrads who live on or near campus while working on a four-year degree; they are administrators who can’t break free from their jobs to attend classes in person. A class of about 15 students typically has about a half-dozen attending through Double robot sessions.

Remote students found that videoconferencing solutions were not well-suited for group discussions and collaboration. Doubles allowed them to be an active part of these discussions and gave them better communication with other remote users.

It’s unlikely that Double robots are going to take over campuses and offices around the country anytime soon. The units are in the $2,500-$3,000 range, depending on options. Businesses will likely use them for remote workers at the higher end of totem pole, or who have unique expertise. Most colleges won’t have the budgets to support using Doubles on a widespread basis.

But that does not mean that the telepresence concept isn’t catching on. They give remote users better access to communication in job and educational settings that videoconferencing can’t provide. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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