Introducing Robotic Telepresence – The Creepy Side Of Collaboration Technology

Described as quite possibly the “creepiest robot ever invented” by dozens of media sites, the Telenoid Telepresence robot has arrived  to be your humanoid stand-in for face-to-face meetings and video conference calls. Is this baby Lord Voldemort look-alike a practical next generation communication medium, or is it light years ahead of it’s time?

The Telenoid robot, an invention of Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro, made it’s media debut in 2010 as the world’s scariest robot. All joking aside, the intention was to give the robot a minimalistic human design and automation to better emulate gestures and facial expressions, and provide a more human-like communication experience.

The robot has a cost-effective frame complete with a head, torso and two short, stubby limbs. The child-size design conveys a ghostly humanoid without a distinguishable age or sex. The thing that makes this robot more cost effective, (compared to animatronic machines used in the movies) is that it has fewer actuators – only nine DC actuators instead of dozens of pneumatic actuators to cut manufacturing costs.

The goal of this little creep is to mimic human gestures in the absence of human presence via a tiny vessel that can be accessed thousands of miles away. All you need is a solid WiFi connection and a laptop with webcam to control the telenoid robot. The robot will mimic movements and gestures recorded via webcam.

Imagine the consumer and business use cases. Instead of Facetiming with Grandpa, you can pick him up and take him with you on a walk around the block (that is if you don’t mind your neighbors staring). Or, imagine your coworker who works remotely “sitting in” on a meeting and hearing his/her voice coming out of the Telenoid. Now remote employees can attend those important lunch meetings and I’m sure your robot will come with it’s own line of accessories for better transportation and mobility like a backpack or ergobaby. This is collaboration on another level and we’re officially creeped out just thinking about it.