Robot Avatars for Fun and Profit (But Mostly Profit)

Robert Bee
Robert Bee's picture

I hate commuting. It's bad enough that I have to spend 8 hours a day at a job when I'd rather be home writing, reading, watching a movie, or drinking a beer, but on top of that I have to spend 40 minutes to 2 hours a day sitting in a car, which means I'm really spending 9-10 hours at work. According to New Scientist, we now have a solution: robot avatars ( ). Instead of shortening your commute with a 90s solution like videoconferencing, you buy a $15,000 robot and leave it at work. Then you log into your remote controlled robot body, and wheel around the office, up to six miles an hour like a segway. The robot can be operated from any webbrowser. It has a LCD screen equipped with cameras for a head, so you can see where you're going, and the person you're talking to. Your co-workers can see you, presumably through a webcam which displays your face on the LCD screen. Instead of everyone having to come into one office for a videoconference, you can go to any part of the building and see or speak to anyone you want. Although the robot is disconcerting for people at first, according to the company people start responding the robot as if it's you. On this same topic, a elementary school in South Korea is using telepresence robots with a video display for a face to teach English. The 29 robots are operated remotely from the Philippines ( ). At the moment these robots are too expensive to go into mass production, but when all the jobs go to China in a few years maybe Americans can make a living teaching English via robot controlled robot. Then we wouldn't have to commute. ------------------ Robert Bee is a librarian and freelance writer living in New Jersey. He can be reached at