52°
Sunny
MON
 91°
 55°
TUE
 81°
 54°
WED
 82°
 57°
THU
 80°
 54°
FRI
 80°
 53°

Telepresence robots let employees 'beam' into work

  • Bo Preising, Suitable Technologies' vice president of engineering, seen on screen, tests the Beam remote presence system in a sound room in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. More employees are working from home, but there's still no substitute for actually being at the office. Enter the Beam. It's a roving computer screen _ with video cameras, microphones and speakers _ that stands five feet and rides on motorized wheels. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

PALO ALTO — Engineer Dallas Goecker attends meetings, jokes with colleagues and roams the office building just like other employees at his company in Silicon Valley.

But Goecker isn't in California. He's more than 2,300 miles away, working at home in Seymour, Indiana.

It's all made possible by the Beam — a mobile video-conferencing machine that he can drive around the Palo Alto offices and workshops of Suitable Technologies. The 5-foot-tall device, topped with a large video screen, gives him a physical presence that makes him and his colleagues feel like he's actually there.

"This gives you that casual interaction that you're used to at work," Goecker said, speaking on a Beam. "I'm sitting in my desk area with everybody else. I'm part of their conversations and their socializing."

Suitable Technologies, which makes the Beam, is now one of more than a dozen companies that sell so-called telepresence robots. These remote-controlled machines are equipped with video cameras, speakers, microphones and wheels that allow users to see, hear, talk and "walk" in faraway locations.


© The Press Democrat |  Terms of Service |  Privacy Policy |  Jobs With Us |  RSS |  Advertising |  Sonoma Media Investments |  Place an Ad
Switch to our Mobile View