Suitable Technologies has introduced Beam Remote Presence System (RPS) to enable individuals to travel instantly to remote locations using videoconferencing on a mobile platform. Beam allows people to be more productive and efficient by providing a real physical sense of presence, while eliminating travel costs.
The Beam Remote Presence System consists of three components: the Beam Remote Presence Device (RPD), the Beam Client Software (Client) and the Beam Docking Station (Dock). The ‘pilot’ of a Beam RPD will use the RPD to communicate with ‘locals’ at a work setting.
The Beam RPD stands at 62” tall, weighs 95 pounds, and has a 17″ screen, enabling the pilot’s face to be seen at human size. The battery can power the Beam RPD for up to eight hours of active use and its motors can reach human walking speed (1.5 meters per second). Robust and seamless wireless connectivity is provided by 4 wireless radios (2.4/5 GHz) and proprietary software that can smoothly handle transitions between access points. The Beam RPD also has two high definition cameras to provide a 170 degree wide field of view, both vertically and horizontally; a six-microphone beam forming array for human-like audio performance, background noise reduction, and echo cancellation; a sophisticated speaker system in order to be heard in noisy environments; and LED lamps to enable operation in low light.
The Beam Client connects to the Beam RPD and provides integrated controls for driving, video, and audio. The client is available for download as an installer on both Windows 7 and Mac OS X.
The third component is the Beam Dock, which charges the RPD’s battery. The pilot maneuvers the RPD directly into the dock without any local intervention to connect to the power source, thus the Beam RPS provides true independence.
“Technology has progressed to the point where physical location no longer has to dictate the presence of a person,” according to Scott Hassan, CEO of Suitable Technologies, the company behind Beam. “Audio and video conferencing have made good strides here, but our goal is to develop a system where an individual can travel instantly. With Beam, profession doesn’t have to dictate location.”
With the growth in dispersed workforces, Suitable anticipates early adopters to come from those businesses with remote engineers or knowledge workers. These individuals can then choose their employer based not on the address of the company headquarters, but on the physical location of their preference. Professionally, individuals want the best, most exciting job possible, but professional goals and personal goals are often at odds when it comes to location. With the introduction of Beam, attributes that are more personally appealing such as family, local schools, housing prices, or outdoor hobbies can be equally measured against the attributes of a particular career.
Suitable Technologies is a spinoff from the personal robotics company Willow Garage. Beam began as a DIY initiative called Project Texai that was originally developed to improve the experience and productivity of Dallas Goecker, a remote employee of Willow Garage.
Dallas, now a Senior Electrical Engineer at Suitable, lives in Indiana where he prefers the cost of living, school system, and family support network without having to sacrifice the face-to-face communication and ad hoc communication with his colleagues in Silicon Valley.
According to Dallas, “Living in Indiana and working in Silicon Valley via Beam isn’t just the best of both worlds, it is both worlds.”
Pricing and Availability
Pricing for the Beam Remote Presence System begins at $16,000 for the Beam RPD and $950 for the Beam Dock. The Beam Remote Presence System is available immediately for pre-order at http://www.suitabletech.com and will begin shipping in November.