"Tele-presence" robots sound like they should look like rolling TV stands that people would only ever want to use at corporate meetings. Now one engineer has created a tele-presence dock that looks dexterous, zippy and appealing for work and personal calls. It's a palm-size, wheeled robot that callers can control remotely, so they can look around a room and follow people as they move.
The Botiful device docks a smartphone and makes and takes calls using the Skype app. People who call a Botiful owner see a small window pop up on their computer screens when their friend picks up the call. The window has controls for the Botiful.
From there, the caller can drive the Botiful around, angle the docked smartphone and use Botiful apps that allow the robot to nod its head "yes" and shake its head "no," for example. The Botiful owners see a video feed of callers' faces, displayed on the smartphone docked on their Botiful.
The device's creator, Claire Delaunay, is now looking for Kickstarter funding to get the little bot to market. She has fully functional prototypes with working software, she said in her Kickstarter video, and only needs funding to start manufacturing.
Delaunay runs her own robotics company, Robotics Valley, in Palo Alto, Calif. Kickstarter donators who give at least $199 get a Botiful device of their own.