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Robotic Teleconferencing

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the ten-seconds-to-comply dept.

HP 97

Mike Elgan writes "Hewlett-Packard Labs unveiled to the press May 23 a system for teleconferencing with lifelike realism.Called the BiReality remote communication system, the project involves a remote-controlled robot on one end, and a total-immersion environment on the other, giving the user the ability to roam hallways, hold conversations and interact remotely through the robot."

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The Stunning Failure of OpenBSD (-1, Troll)

Michael's a Jerk! (668185) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030191)


Recently I had an experience to use OpenBSD. I had heard many great
things about it, and was excited to replace a dead Linux firewall with
this OS. Unfortunately as things turned out, OpenBSD proved to be more
nightmare than solution.

When not attending classes at my community college to get my
humanities degree, I work part-time at a printshop. Our Linux box
there finally gave up the ghost. I'd heard that OpenBSD was incredibly
secure so I talked my boss into putting that on as a replacement.

Part of the appeal of OpenBSD was its history. A fork of the Linux
kernel, it was originally intended for Steve Job's failed NeXT cube.
Recently, its found a home amongst the ignorant and easily-fooled as a
firewall OS (later on, we'll see how Job's reached back to use OpenBSD
in OSX. This will be important later!) BSD was also famous for an
incident in the early 80s, where they were sued by Microsoft when the
BSD developers stole the TCP/IP stack from Microsoft's PC-DOS.

Once my boss gave approval, I quickly headed over to and
downloaded the ISOs from the web site. Our box was pretty
state-of-the-art, a two-CPU'ed Pentium III. Installing it went pretty
flawless and I had high hopes for our new firewall.

Almost immediately however I began to have concerns. I noticed no
where did OpenBSD display the terms of the GPL. Since its based on
Linux, this should be a requirement. Apparently the history of theft
amongst the BSD developers still continues!

I was even more shocked to learn that the ipchains rules we'd
carefully setup on our Linux box would not work on OpenBSD! Perhaps
OpenBSD is still using a SHARE-based networking security from the DOS
TCP/IP stack! Or more likely they just haven't caught up to Linux and
are still using iptables.

Whatever the case, almost immediately our box was rooted. OpenBSD
proved to be aptly named as the box was "open" to the entire world.
Later on I would find out that despite its claims of being secure,
OpenBSD's default configuration appears to start up every service
known to man! I find it shocking that an OS commonly used for
firewalls would have BIND running by default.

Then there was the OpenSSH holes. I would later learn that OpenBSD has
a history of remote exploits. Perhaps they should work with the team
at RedHat, as RH knows how to secure their distros.

After spending a week trying to patch a leaky firewall, I gave up. I
found an Mac SE/30 and put OSX on it. I then installed Norton Personal
Firewall. That became our firewall and I'm proud to say that its been
happily running for two weeks without a single incident. I find it
funny that despite OpenBSD users arrogant claims of superiority, a
humble SE/30, running an OS that's loosely based on OpenBSD, performed
much better. Perhaps its another failing of open source versus
commercial software. Whatever the case, its clear that OpenBSD has a
long ways to go before it can be taken seriously.

Re:The Stunning Failure of OpenBSD (-1, Troll)

death or glory (603910) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030198)

you're gay, seth

don't bulleave IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030201)

whacking off a few analcysts, does NOT address the wall street of deceit corepirate nazi infection.

Crashes fast! (4, Funny)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030202)

HP Fellow Norm Jouppi told HP World Magazine that the BiReality system prototype, now in its second version, is made with off-the-shelf parts, including two very fast Windows PCs, four cameras, a series of directional microphones and speakers.

This prototype will crash even faster than the previous prototype! It crashes very fast!

Which brings up another point. What if the robot is moving when Windows crashes? Will it STOP, or just display a STOP error while it keeps on rolling right into somebody?

Re:Crashes fast! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030364)

The robot is a complex system with many contingency plans. In the event of a system crash it would revert to a simple "Kill all humans" routine until the system can be brought back online.

Ahhh, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030427)

that makes me feel better. So the only intelligent life left would be the Robots, laywers and M$FT employees. That sounds like more fun then giving Badgers bellyrubs.

I sure hope I get to watch from where I end up (I hope they have aspirin for my neck, having to look up at the show and all).

Roaming with stings attached? (4, Interesting)

pphrdza (635063) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030204)

giving the user the ability to roam hallways, hold conversations and interact remotely through the robot.

I donno - how long are the cables (visible in the pic)? Of course, being only the second version, with "off the shelf" parts, it looks pretty interesting.

Re:Roaming with stings attached? (2, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030232)

stings attached

hehe. only for bosses with prickly personalities...

Re:Roaming with stings attached? (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031857)

Read the whole article. It says version 1 was free roaming, and version 3 will be as well. They didn't bother making this version roaming as they were just working on interface.

doom? (5, Funny)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030208) environment on the other, giving the user the ability to roam hallways, hold conversations and interact remotely through the robot. Am I the only one who is thinking Doom??

Re:doom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030389)

No, I'm thinking some MMORPG....

Re:doom? (1)

Cipster (623378) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031111)

I'm thinking Amsterdam's Red District without having to travel a few thousand miles....

Umm.. lame? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030216)

I'm not a troll, but seriously, what is with these postings on slashdot lately? I use to enjoy coming here to find interesting stories, now all I see is redundant crap. Is life that boring nowadays where we have to read about tumbleweed and robots in conference rooms? I'm half expecting a "new linux-based toaster to hit market" post.

Not to mention the fact that the authors of some of these posts seem to skim through LAST MONTHS issue of Wired, and they consider this newsworthy. What the hell is going on?

Sounds very handy (5, Funny)

SRCR (671581) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030217)

This way I'll still be able to kick the other person in the groin even with teleconferencing.. This rulez

Re:Sounds very handy (1)

leeroybrown (624767) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030257)

It could also give a whole new meaning to a "long distance relationship".

Whoa (1)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030395)

I'll still be able to kick the other person in the groin even with teleconferencing.

Even with? Dude, what sort of meetings does your company have?

Re:Sounds very handy (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 11 years ago | (#6032221)

This robot is just a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

"Hey, what do you think you're doing with that actuator?"

I'll bet Bill Clinton will want a few of these.

I'd like to have a doxen of these... (4, Funny)

jkrise (535370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030225)

And install them at the offices of His Billness, His Baldness, Rosen, Boies, etc. Only then will our computing experince become trustworthy.

One worry though:
"the BiReality system .. is made with..two very fast Windows PCs, four cameras, a series of directional microphones and speakers. "

I can't locate even 1 Very Fast Windows PC yet. I'd need 4 dozens here. Anyone seen such a PC yet? Windows95 on a P4 2.4GHz maybe?

Well, actually... (1)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030331)

I can't locate even 1 Very Fast Windows PC yet. I'd need 4 dozens here. Anyone seen such a PC yet? asp []

Well, actually...those are SERVERS. (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030717)

Those aren't just garden-variety PCs. The comparison chart Faust7 is referencing is a high-end server chart.

However: is this a MS cheerleader site? Because I don't see anything running any sort of Free/Open operating system. Just Windows 2K Datacenter and proprietary Unices.

One wonders what would happen if a few of those high-end IBM Linux on Power4 hardware boxen were allowed to play. Vrooom...

Re:I'd like to have a doxen of these... (1)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030367)

You're looking at "Very Fast Windows PCs," not "Very Fast PCs." Big difference. One has Windows bottlenecking it down. These computers are Very Fast for Windows PCs, granted they could be faster with a barebone OS. Although some may consider it faster to use Windows because of lack-or-low driver support, for example graphic cards usually won't run as fast, granted some are faster.

lots of them (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031618)

If you had a bunch of them in a room, then you could "broadcast" to all of them at once and it would be like a bunch of Agent Smiths.

Why does this remind me... (3, Funny)

Mossfoot (310128) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030230)

... of that spiderlike mobile holoprojector used by Darth Sideous in The Phantom Menace?

Re:Why does this remind me... (2, Funny)

No Such Agency (136681) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030320)

Probably because your sidious-like boss could use it to walk into your cubicle even when he's on a trip to Japan...

"Mmmmm, yeah. Mossfoot, I'm going to need you to come in Saturday. So if you could just go ahead and be here at nine, that'd be great. Beep beep."

Your boss will visit even when he is in Japan (1)

pussyco (243391) | more than 11 years ago | (#6034232)

The exact phrasing in the parent was:
...boss could use it to walk into your cubicle even when he's on a trip to Japan...
Obvious meaning - boss flies to Japan, uses virtual reality suite in Japan and telepresence robot in office to walk into your cubicle.

Alternative meaning - boss uses telepresence to make his trip to Japan. So there is no problem taking off the telepresence head set and having a walk round the office to see what the workers are up to, while he is "in Japan"

I posted [] a link [] earlier.

Will tomorrow... (5, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030235)

...a remote-controlled robot be build so you can "walk it" to the shop behind the corner, get your kid back home from school, go to work... Will two people never seeing each other send their robots to marry each other remotely? And then go to honeymoon, to Niagara Falls, to watch the views on monitors from home... Will a day come when leaving your house will be scarce and you'll be doing everything by controlling your robot? I don't really like this vision of future.

Re:Will tomorrow... (4, Insightful)

evbergen (31483) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030264)

Of course, the next step would be to interlink robots in such a way that if one robot is observed by another, you see an image of the owner instead of the robot.

At that point, it's only a tiny step away to skip the whole robot and camera business and to interact virtually only.

Of course, I sincerely hope to be dead before this becomes the only practical way of being in contact with people.

Re:Will tomorrow... (3, Funny)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030323)

Yeah, and you just KNOW your girlfriend's robot would look a lot better than the real thing.

When your robot is dating a "big boned, but attractive" robot, watch out.

Re:Will tomorrow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030327)

We need a +5 Insightfunny mod.

Re:Will tomorrow... (1)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030392)

Well, first you may have to decompile the code that's drawing her image and add in some mods=p I.E. use StretchBlt instead of BitBlt, and make an artifact cleaning algorythm (both the artifacts on her face, and to make her appear younger.)

Re:Will tomorrow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030681)

Two robots on honeymoon at Niagra Falls? Hmmm. I wonder what kind of sexual lubricant they use.

Re:Will tomorrow... (1)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 11 years ago | (#6033406)

How about yu and your wife go to Niagara Falls for your honeymoon, and stay there while you send your bot to work.

That's more like it...

Where do you see this whole "I'm going to force you to downgrade your experience of life" bit?

Making the IT department the enemy in offices (2, Insightful)

fozzy(pro) (267441) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030239)

IT folks are often looked down in many companies due to the nature of computers breaking down and being "difficult" to use. Reducing the number of bussines trips seems like it is a way to make a few more enemies in the world.

2 words (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030241)

Beedee beedee.......

Re:2 words (1)

madmarcel (610409) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030445) lead buster! :P

<<clunk clunk whir whir clunk clunk>>

If you combine telepresence robotics with (3, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030248)

This [] , I think it might be the killer application of home robotics.

I sense... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030258)

that half of these posts will concentrate on what OS those robots will be running instead of the applications and pure coolness of the robots.

Re:I sense... (1)

JUSTONEMORELATTE (584508) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030959)

... And the other half will talk about walking it into the bathroom Mobile webcam Wo0t!


Just a marketing/press release (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030275)

To get HP some digital ink. Yesterday it was iron before that it was layoffs...last week it was how the 'merger' was complete (tell that to their distribution hubs)....week before that it was..well, you get the point.

Must be a shareholder's meeting coming up. Otherwise, this armless overgrown lego with screens could be something from the '70s.

Re:Just a marketing/press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6032314)

I completely agree. A siz year old today could come up with this. How absolutely USELESS and turdish. HP seems to be going down the tubes more and more each day, and this is one example why. How could a company that produced the greatest calculators close down its division to spend money developing garbage like this?!?!? Seems like another CEO being greedy.

Creeps me out (1)

HisMother (413313) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030278)

The picture creeps me out, because it reminds me very much of the oldest of the old, dilapidated robots at the "flesh fair" in Kubrick/Spielberg's "A.I." So this robot's ancestors will end up there... *shudder*

Nice timing... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030284)

If this is ready for early adopter markets now, the timing is excellent: due to SARS, real presence in some parts of the world has become risky, which makes telepresence more attractive despite the initial cost of such a system.

Can you say telepresence anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030297)

or is it just me....

A Perfect Application... (4, Interesting)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030304)

...once the technology is refined and reliable:

Break into a car, put the robot at the wheel, made up as realistically as possible to resemble a human, flip the bird at the highway patrol, and hey, it's the ultimate real life police chase, except for the part at the end where the driver usually gets hauled off in handcuffs.

Especially good if your control feed is being repeated from a number of different locations and randomly phase-shifted, so as to throw off triangulation.

Real-life GTA, anyone?

Re:A Perfect Application... (1)

sb_gorthi (673799) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030391)


Re:A Perfect Application... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030916)

There's a reason for someone not to be influenced by violent video games......when there's the same abstraction between them and real life crimes...

I don't think remote controlled bipeds are going to be around for a loooong time though.

Anyone else have a flashback. (1)

SphynxSR (584774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030311)

Danger, Danger.

Repeat After Me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030317)


WTF's wrong with these marketing people today????
A Robot is something like Bender, who drinks beer and loots things. A box with a recorded message "hello - I'm about to move", is not a robot. A computer program with pseudo AI (not even AI, just hardcoded arrays of messages), is not a robot.

Re:Repeat After Me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030344)

A Robot is something like Bender, who drinks beer and loots things...

You just know this AC will turn out to be an MIT Robotics professor and thats how robots will end up. Chilling really.

Re:Repeat After Me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030360)

But I *am* a MIT robotics professor. And I'm really tired of all these marketing people misusing the word "robot" to describe stupendous products.

This is bad for my research and all the hard-working scientists here.

Re:Repeat After Me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030385)

misusing the word "robot" to describe stupendous products.

I've always been partial to the term 'space age'. You still hear it bandied around these days for new inventions. Okay, so its 1957 technology? Fabulous.

Re:Repeat After Me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030411)

"lifelike realism" is one thing. Artificial intelligence, adaption in the environment, inspiration, learning and motivation, is another.

I wisht people would not confuse these two when it comes to "robots". In my lab we do the latter. And people are impressed by the former and then come to my lab and they are extremely disappointed when they see a neural network.

Re:Repeat After Me: (*** BUT WHAT IS IT***) (1)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030439)

I guess it would be a Remote Control Telepresence Device, or a ReCTeD (pronounced wrecked).

But... (3, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030324)

a remote-controlled robot on one end,

I already teleconference with my boss.

reminds me... (1)

sdaemon (25357) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030329)

...of the remotes described in Stanislaw Lem's Peace on Earth.

The beginnings thereof, at least.

Finally!!! (2, Funny)

WernerStormcrow (675682) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030334)

At last, I can attend meetings while having another important session on the toilet. But maybe I'll wait for the enhanced model with rotating razor blades. Then, I can show my colleagues what I really think of their work. And the best part is: I can blame it on Windows (those damn Internet Explorer vulnerabilities can be VERY dangerous, you know).

A Bi Reality by any other name... (3, Funny)

PoisonousPhat (673225) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030343)

Me and my dirty mind. I think HP, given the function and description of this project, should rename it to something other than "BiReality", unless they are pursuing a client base of alternative lifestyle teleconferencers.

Dot stupid (2, Interesting)

Luguber123 (203502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030351)

Concidering that half the dot com era's IT budget was spent on projectors and laser pens. I'm looking forward to see all the practical purposes of this ingenious machine. Is it possible to put it on hold or get it to bring coffe.

What if the person on the other end does something clumsy, boy does that sound expensive!

Is it at least possible to recycle it?

Technical Magic (1)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030356)

I know we're all on slashdot, and thus are geeks, but is it really necessary for the rest of the world to understand an article by saying "Through some technical video magic, the background of the robot, not the user, is displayed behind the user's head on the robot screens" instead of "The background of the robot's head is the background of the person in the robot's room, considering the background of the robot is displayed 360 degreese around the victims head?"

I mean, come on! How stupid is the rest of the world?!?

If the victim's head on the robot is shown in the direction the victim's head is facing, unless the room that he/she's in is not showing the image in a life-size (which it is, considering this is total emersion, not 20%-height-leave-room-for-doors-etc emersion) then of course the background will be displayed - and likely blurred from capturing the captured video, but that's not the point.

Re:Technical Magic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030403)

I mean, come on! How stupid is the rest of the world?!?

Where are you from? I've been a lot of places and pretty much everywhere i've been, people are shit-stupid and they don't want to learn. Give them TV and they're happy. Maybe if they got stuck on Discovery Channel one day they might catch a show about how it actually works but until then, technical video magic, will do quite nicely.

Re:Technical Magic (1)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030417)

Yes. It's very hard to comprehend that putting a video camera in front of someone's head will capture their background along with their head. And since the background is what's behind the robot.

They obviously just wanted some more marketdroid speech in the article. They just wanted you to look back at the pretty little picture and say "hey cool! I want one now! Too bad they aren't released yet and therefore shouldn't really be touched by the marketting department. :( ."

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a VERY cool thing, and leaves us only one step closer to virtual reality goggles in our homes that immerges us in to a true virtual conference, or better yet, a MMPOG. Just make sure they REALLY feel it when I shoot at em with my Redeemer.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030896)

First note that their sentence is shorter than yours. I really don't understand what your sentence is trying to say. Who is the "victim"?

I sense you misunderstood the "technical video magic". What happens is that the user's head is segmented out from the video feed in the "immersion room", then superimposed on top of a video feed of the rear facing camera mounted on the robot. So the background on-screen of the robot matches the room where the robot is present.

In this case, the background will not be blurred, there is some "magic" involved, and people interacting with this robot don't ever see what the interior of the "immersion room" looks like.

Very Fast Windows PCs (0, Flamebait)

Kwiik (655591) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030376)

I wonder if they said it this way because they actually were hiding that the only way they're fast, is that it'll configure itself and sacrifice performance?

What do you think? They're very fast performing Windows PCs, or very fastly assembled? Having worked in HP tech support, I'd say let's go for the latter.
*cough*OEMupTheAss*cough*especiallyInHome Networkin g*cough*

This is great (1)

sb_gorthi (673799) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030379)

What with SARS and everything the Doctors from here couldn't get to Singapore. With this thing you don't need to send them there to learn....... get the SG concern to buy the BiReality and hello, Liver Transplanting 101.

Ahhh... a dream of mine (2, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030381)

If I had access to this robot the _very first_ thing that I would do is make it kick out the jams and dance "the robot".

Re:Ahhh... a dream of mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030390)

Make it dress up in a maids uniform.

Re:Ahhh... a dream of mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030399)

Make it dress up in a maids uniform.

o o

Anime reference! (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030736)

Mahoromatic [] . A combat andro-robot becomes sentient, leaves military service, and becomes a maid.

Oh ok (2, Funny)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030384)

I had to RTFA. I was confused. I thought this had to do something with sending movies to Tom Servo and Crow.

Tele (conferencing) your love... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030393)

This technology should be integrated with Teledildonic(TM) remote-lovin' equipment. WTF is Teledildonics? The digitized motions and frictions of all your favorite positions pipelined to your husband and wife, via sensitive, wearable fun-suits! If they only had a knob for...

Re:Tele (conferencing) your love... (2, Funny)

teqron (638715) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030420)

Hooorrrrayyyyy No more herpes. Wont that make the world a better place.

Is it just me or... (2, Interesting)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030423)

"I'm sorry I can't be here, but if you look to your left, you can see a big blue cube with a TV on it..."

Why do it in reality when you can do it in VR? Personally, I'd prefer to have video conferencing in a modified version of counterstrike or planetside; if they piss me off they get shot, etc etc. Or if it's an actual conference with people attending and 1 or 2 people attending virtually, give them a big screen and some software to let them control it, and you're set.

Although, you just know that the first one that's going to happen you're going to have one robot going and toppling the other ones over while the other ones attempt to whirr away at slow speed, only to be kicked by frightened workers who think the robot has eaten their boss or someone is going through the building planning a terrorist bombing. Afterall, you could probably put a face of bin-ladeon in their...

Just remember (1)

leasilver (605237) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030883)

That your boss would have to be the admin for the server running the teleconferencing. He might end up being the only one with a gun. More importantly, I think that we could look at a new low cost method of tourism, or virtual field trips for schools wealthy enough to get into the equipment to do a whole class (20+ students at one time). "Pay attention class, today we will be going to visit the Pyramids at Giza"

Aaaaugh! It's Wobby the wobot! (2, Interesting)

madmarcel (610409) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030429)

Well...besides the obvious comments about the OS crashing...and the robot possibly rolling into/over someone :P
(Obviously it would come to an immediate halt, but then IS powered by an eeevil micro$oft could go on a rampage, destroy buildings, search out it's maker, become part of the global computer defense network, go mad, develop an obsession with pinnochio, build an army of invincible shiny cyborgs, travel back in time, enslave humans and use them as :P

Eh...anyway...I was going to say that that wobot in the pictures looks a bit unstable to me...kinda top heavy and suffering from middle-age bloat (spare me the windoze jokes! ;^)

Nevermind crashing the OS, what if that (expensive?) machine keels over? properly test this...we need to place one small child and/or one happy dog in the vicinity of this robot. Stand back and make sure you're wearing a helmet (and probably steel-capped boots - mind your toeses folks :)

Which reminds me:
A couple of years ago I watched some video footage on "America's funniest home-videos" (or some clone of that god awful program) where a remote controlled (friendly looking) robot entered a room where a whole bunch of kids where playing with toys. Obviously there was a hidden camera filming the whole thing. The producers thought it would be funny to have the kids talk to/interact with their crappy robot.
The robot was about the same size and shape as the one in the article, but instead of blue, it was completely red with a 'traditional' square robot head. (square eyes, mouth, antennas, the works :)

Now here's the important bit:
Much to the producers surprise (and delight) the children, upon seeing the robot enter the room, all started screaming and crying, and proceeded to assault the robot and pelt it with their toys!

Now imagine your kids at home, playing with their toys...and in comes Wobby the wobot - with DADDY's HEAD! "Hel-lo chil-dren!" Aaaugh!

Years of therapy...

Robotic tele... (1)

BobLenon (67838) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030446)

I wish i had one, so I could use it to get my diploma - sorry - diploma folder, from graduation. Then I could still be sleeping. Or drinking ;)

New Spammers delivery mechanism (2, Funny)

rodney dill (631059) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030447)

Now Spammers can deliver their message to you in person. (without fear of personal reprisal). Not to mention to opportunity to sell more slick advertising space on the "robots" exterior.

Our course I would reserve some space for my bumper sticker.

My Robot can Kick Your Robot's A$$

Huston... (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030449)

They should send one of these to Mars instead of those silly tumbleweed things!

Yea sure the lag would be horrible, but just get someone from efnet to operate it.

It's First Macro Virus (3, Funny)

raumdass (210351) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030454)

"It's just strange Johnson, one minute we were discussing the quarterly financials, and the next thing you know, he starts breakdancing and shouting 'You've been 0wned'".

Re:It's First Macro Virus (1)

rrrrrick (675455) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030513)

note to self: start rotoscoping Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo. write compiler to parse live action modeller files into 'bot moves.

Filet Minon makes the potatoes look bigger.

You can use this one (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030486)

to teleconference with me. Or just to annoy me and run into my office chair repeatedly. Note that the bathroom is also a popular destination.

not a robot... (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030524)

Thats not a robot, the term is "waldo" .. the equivalent of "robotic arms" controlled from a joystick... just with a lot more feedback.

Re:not a robot... (1)

BitSmasher (675809) | more than 11 years ago | (#6033758)

I was scanning thru the comments to see if anyone had mentioned "waldo" yet. An excellent SF novel exploring advanced waldo technology is Laura Mixon's "Proxies". I'm ready for a beanlink when the technology arrives!

The future is looking sweet!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030531)

Too bad the people I currently teleconference with don't look as good as the woman pictured in the article.

Re:The future is looking sweet!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030551)

Yeah, I just hope they go all out real on us, like these [] people. Keep it looking like a big blue box please. Otherwise, if I do happen to have a teleconference with a hot chick, there's going to be a sexual harassment case for sure. Plus, my wingy-wang will be electrocuted. Oh well, the apple doesn't fall far from tree. To each his own.

Call me a Luddite, but... (2)

bethanie (675210) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030666)

How is this a vast improvement over video teleconferencing? You are still just looking at a picture of the person who's not there. So it can move around the room -- you're still not getting the true "presence" of a person in the room.

Cool techno-gadgetry aside, I just don't see companies jumping on this thing. They're gonna stick with the cheap stuff already available, and when it's really important, they'll break down and buy a plane ticket.

Boring, but true.


In science fiction... (1)

mi (197448) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030691)

In what SciFi I read, such "robot" would be called the other person's "avatar". Mind you, there is no need for the other person. An avatar can represent a computer or some other (semi-)sentient being...

Cool... (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030697)

This could do wonders for these types of people. []

Literary reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6030712)

Exactly this sort of telepresence robot was used to interesting effect in the novel "Einstein's Bridge", by John Cramer. There's an interesting battle between an evil-doer and a protagonist-controlled telepresence robot. When one robot is destroyed, the hero just activates another one, which makes for an interesting dynamic.

It's a little off-topic, but I have to recommend this book, just for the circumstances under which it was written. It was supposed to be about some odd effects of the Superconducting Super Collider, but the SSC project was axed before John could finish the book, throwing all his near-term sci-fi predictions out the window. He managed to finish the book anyway, throwing a really fun twist into the end to make everything consistent. One of the more amusing hard sci-fi reads I've come across in a long time.

AIBO did this years ago (2)

digicosm2 (672998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030825)

You can already do this with one of AIBO [] 's consumer applications called AIBO Navigator [] . It allows you to control AIBO with a joystick while seeing the world through his video camera. You can also send and receive audio through his stereo microphones and speaker.

OK, OK, well, you do lose the immersive VR environment on the client side.... :-)

reality for who? (1)

Servo (9177) | more than 11 years ago | (#6030957)

Sure, it might make it more "real" to the user, but I for one doubt that most people that will be on the interaction end of the robot won't exactly take to this realism.

Telepresence is not teleconferencing. (1)

pussyco (243391) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031079)

As I explain in my essay [] about how telepresence will displace business air travel:
Telepresence is not teleconferencing. The telepresence camera is under the control of the near end, not the far end. It can roam and see things it is not meant to see. It is a tool for bosses not workers. The location is laid open to the inspection of the visiting dignitary, while the presence itself reveals nothing of the near end.

Straight outta Star Trek.... (1)

HeywoodJablomi69 (523618) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031099)

Wasn't there an episode where Geordi used one of these to explore hazardous environments?

Re:Straight outta Star Trek.... (1)

ddkilzer (79953) | more than 11 years ago | (#6034620)

The episode is called "Interface [] " from the 7th season of ST:TNG. Geordi actually uses a neural interface to control the probe remotely.

India will love this (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031494)

Now even McD jobs will be taken. Somebody can flip burgers and make change from 4000 miles away.

Heck, if they learn to bullshit like an American manager, that can be done remotely from India and China also.

What AI researchers fail to realize is that brains *are* cheap after all. With 2 billion starving persons on this earth, all we need is a remote proxy to tap into them, not an artificial brain. There is a surplus of real brains.

And, humans are horny bastards, they will make more desparate people. We are good at that.

The future is gonna be weird.

Close but not quite (1)

bluyonder (643628) | more than 11 years ago | (#6031819)

Combine this with Honda's Asimo [] and one of these [] and I'm in.

It is a ROBOT! (1)

bentfork (92199) | more than 11 years ago | (#6032306)

"While it looks like what most people would describe as a 'robot,' it's not in the sense that it doesn't work automatically-it's controlled," said Jouppi in a statement. "It's no more a 'robot' than your car is a 'robot.'"

Jeesh, it is a robot. Doesn't anyone remember that 'ROBOT' stands for Remotely Operated Body Of Tin? At least that is where the name came from.

Honestly, where do you think the name came from?


Board room pranks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6033669)

I'd say "Excuse me" and wheel the robot off to the bathroom (Does the robot fall under the classification of "Men" or "Women"?) just to be a nice smartass, you'd have to wonder how long it would take them to think about that one.
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