POTUS and the Beam

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President Barack Obama greets Alice Wong, Disability Visibility Project Founder and Project Coordinator via BeamPro during the Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary reception in the Blue Room of the White House, July 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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From Storify: #ADA25 at the @WhiteHouse
“On July 20, 2015, President Obama spoke in the East Room of the White House about the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many members of the disability community attended the event including Alice Wong, Founder and Project Coordinator of the Disability Visibility Project. Alice attended the event remotely using BeamPro, a telepresence robot that allows a person to stream live with a webcam and move around simply by clicking the arrows on a laptop’s keyboard. Apparently, Alice was the first person to use this type of device in the White House.” – Alice Wong

VIDEO: President Obama Celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the ADA

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More stories about how Beam helps people with accessibility:

Ph.D Student attends College & Conferences with Smart Presence

Henry Evans “walks again” using Smart Presence

Working (and Thinking) Outside the Box

We have all heard the phrase, “stroke of genius.” Hearing this phrase likely conjures up images of people like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, forward thinkers and innovators who have impacted the future as we know it.  In today’s world, we need more of these types of thinkers, but what sets them apart?  The answer is a willingness to look at the future to find solutions for today. The answer is imagination.

Traditionally, the workplace has been a think tank for grand ideas that keep companies in business. But what if the workplace of the future is different than our parents’ generations, and even our own? The office will not be defined by history’s concepts of what it should be; it no longer has to be defined or confined by cubicles or walls. Today, the possibility of imagination needs to be broadened outside the meeting room.

Re-imagine “Outside the Box”

“Thinking outside the box” is a phrase most employees have heard. Let’s consider that phrase in the literal sense – removing the physical barriers of the “office box.” It’s time to recognize where ideas happen and where imagination flourishes. It is true that ideas can happen within the workplace, but it is equally true that they can happen anywhere one finds inspiration. According to research from Forrester, “It’s imperative that business leaders initiate programs that keep their workforce productive and connected while mobile and remote.” People may need to work from places of inspiration such as their family home or on the road.

The reasoning is two-fold: more workers choose to work remotely everyday, and flexible work arrangements offer workers freedom from the confines of an office to think more creatively. Often, the confines of a stagnate work environment can fail to ignite innovative thinking due to lack of outside stimulation. In addition, workers can feel hampered by unspoken rules of etiquette and procedure within the formality of a rigid office space. A corporate hierarchy inhibits free flowing ideas and imagination by limiting workers from approaching superiors they might have approached in an otherwise less formal environment – a reason many companies have internal networking events. Thus, organizations are presented a challenge where internal office employees may feel isolated or under-inspired, while employees outside the office have ideas that require discussion among colleagues. To help solve this challenge, today’s workers need to be empowered with the tools that break down barriers of remoteness and access to help eliminate the limitations offices can create: both internally and externally. If we want to inspire workers to think outside of the box, then we need to do just that – get them outside the box – to comfortable environments where ideas flourish, but let them be freely available to the office when an idea needs to come to fruition.

The End of Office Silos

Technology has long been heralded as the future of business, from the advent of the printing press to the breakthrough of the modern computer, it has enhanced the business world. As technology progresses so do workers, but exactly how does technology un-confine? It creates and strengthens the opportunities for collaboration and people are beginning to take advantage.

When asked what their primary concern was for their first job, 57 percent of younger Americans wanted to do something enjoyable or make a difference in society. For example, a group of Millennials are working remotely while traveling around the globe on a program called Remote Year. The younger generation is embracing flexibility because they will need to always be on the hunt for new work during their careers; and for those who are successful at finding new work, their ability to learn new roles and organizations helps make them more nimble and competitive to an industry’s changing demands. According to the U.S Department of Labor, the median tenure of workers ages 55 to 64 was more than three times that of workers ages 25 to 34 years. Younger workers are spending less time at the same job and contracting more, leading to fluidity within the work market.  Technology platforms make it easy for employees and contractors to work from around the globe, enabling workers to literally “work outside the box”.

Look at any modern day office and you will see people connected by emails, phones, online chat groups, and more.  Collaboration is happening all around us in real time.  However, technology is also creating limitations. Emails go unanswered or unseen. Phone messages don’t always get relayed, and people connect to the physical office space by wires and walls. Workers need to be certain their message was received, so smartphones, Google Hangouts, and video conferencing has been added to the mix. Telepresence technology has advanced to the point where workers may connect their computer to a telepresence device in the workplace from anywhere around the globe – giving them a physical presence within the office space and “being there” for colleagues. Suitable Technologies and our Beam telepresence devices focus on allowing companies to tear down the silos that previously existed between remote workers and their offices – encouraging more collaboration and brainstorming, more efficiency and more real-time interaction and synergy between colleagues. The abundance of these kinds of technologies gives workers the flexibility they need to work and think beyond the limitations of generations past and let imagination flourish.

Allowing Imagination to Thrive

It is clear that as imagination grows, and technology is embraced, the future office will look vastly different. Research has long shown that geographical diversification within the workforce is happening, and businesses that want to succeed need to support the future workplace now.  Employees are demanding more flexibility as schedules become increasingly more hectic and work days get longer; they want the quiet comfort of home on some days, the intense collaboration of the office on others, or the inspirational experience of working while traveling abroad. If organizations want to propel imagination and inspiration forward, then they need to look at technology to solve these challenges, so everyone may enjoy a future where workplace imagination leads to inspiration and true genius thrives.

Suitable Technologies Launches Museum Partnership Program

After a year of successful pilot programs utilizing the Beam® Smart Presence System (SPS) at several US museums and cultural sites, including the de Young Museum and Detroit Institute of Arts, Suitable Technologies is pleased to announce the launch of the Museum Partnership Program. Participating museums and cultural sites will receive a BeamPro™ SPS to grant visitor access to people who are physically unable to travel. From anywhere in the world, a user may “beam” into participating museums to view galleries and experience museums firsthand from the comfort of his or her home computer.

Museums who participate in the partnership program will receive BeamPro SPS with assisted driving, charging dock, unlimited software licenses, and an annual service package that includes ongoing maintenance and program support for remote visitors who are physically unable to visit the site. A Beam user, the person who utilizes the BeamPro SPS to visit the museum remotely, downloads the Beam application onto his or her webcam-enabled personal computer at no additional cost.

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“With the Beam, I gain freedom and physical motion that provides me real-time interactivity in the world” shared Beam user Kavita Krishnaswamy. “Although I am unable to visit many museums in-person due to my severe physical disability, the opportunity to attend and interact remotely is an incredible experience.”

As highlighted in the July/August 2015 issue of Museum Magazine, the BeamPro SPS is one of the exciting new technologies being implemented by museums and cultural sites to provide better access to visitors with physical disabilities. BeamPro embodies the user with an authentic presence and immerses the user with reliable low latency audio and video for natural communication and control. BeamPro can be used by anyone, in any ADA compliant environment, through use of a valid WiFi connection.

To find out more about this new outreach program and schedule a BeamPro test drive, please contact:

Christa Cliver
Director of Education & Museum
+1.206.369.7786
ccliver@suitabletech.com

About Suitable Technologies™
Suitable Technologies grants shared experiences between friends, students, teams and guests by transporting a person’s presence to any place of interest. The Beam™ SPS (Smart Presence System), which includes products BeamPro and Beam+, is a telepresence solution that combines mobility and video conferencing for an immersive communication experience everywhere conversations take place. Beam enables people to be there, and to interact naturally by seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard, and the freedom to move about, from anywhere in the world. Founded in 2011, Suitable Technologies products are designed and manufactured at its headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. Follow @suitabletech, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or elevate your communication at https://www.suitabletech.com.

All trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

SUITABLE TECHNOLOGIES CONTACT
Erin Rapacki                                                             Brianna Lempesis
Director of Marketing                                              Media Manager
+1.650.687.7193                                                      +1.925.336.4826
erin@suitabletech.com                                            blempesis@suitabletech.com

How Beam Protects your Privacy

Greetings

Have a quick video call over your smartphone about work related matters, and you may feel secure; you may think that there are so many free video calls that certainly nobody is listening to yours. However, as people begin bringing their own device (BYOD) to work, IT professionals are increasingly sensitive to the security measures offered over video.  At Suitable Technologies, the makers of the Beam® Smart Presence System (SPS) including BeamPro™ and Beam+™, we take security seriously for the new video collaboration option called “remote presence.”

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Learn how Beam extends video conferencing outside the meeting room.

The video conferencing software used for the Beam SPS is developed internally by the team at Suitable Technologies in order to control all aspects of security, quality, and experience for communication and motion throughout a building. The System seamlessly integrates low latency audio/video with real-time driving controls enabling ‘presence’ rather than simply conversation.  With a minimum bandwidth of ~1Mbps, high-quality video is prioritized so users always see where they are going, enabling safe movement in even the most crowded environment; by matching latencies for both driving and video, the pilot has easy, intuitive control.  Extensive user permission tools work with all Beam models and encompass the entire user network.  Suitable Technologies employees rely on Beam every day for their own needs: remote work, home and family, events, and meetings with Fortune 500 customers.

Employees of Suitable enjoy the freedom to live anywhere while being a full-time, team contributor in Palo Alto.

In addition to robust, integrated video conferencing and mobility software, the hardware and Beam management tools embody security and privacy protocols that enforce secure face-to-face collaboration, for example:

  • The Beam App. does NOT have built-in video/audio recording or photo-taking.
  • Beam video must be on at all times so locals know who is piloting the SPS.
  • When in use, the Beam ‘neck’ is illuminated so people know a remote pilot is present even if the local cannot see the screen.
  • Similar to providing key card access to a building, Beam site administrators can grant permission to a Beam temporarily – on specific days, for specific hours.
  • Administrators can require that a SPS must be answered with a physical tap by the local person when a remote pilot seeks to beam in.

A secure video collaboration solution is required to enable sensitive face-to-face interactions when travel is not an option. With assurance that Beams provide secure, safe, and reliable remote presence with colleagues; users have access to more jobs, are able to manage teams across oceans, and can transact business with a sense physical presence that is otherwise unachievable.

Synopsis from the Network Administration Guide on SPS security specs and operability:

Beam communications is protected using industry standard TLS (Transport Layer Security). Beam session data (audio/video) is encrypted using AES256 and authenticated using HMACSHA1. Encryption and decryption happen at the endpoints.

The Beam Service allows a pilot using a Beam App to connect to a Smart Presence System (SPS). The Service facilitates the following communication processes for Suitable Technologies:

  • System Configuration
  • System Diagnostic data (e.g., performance data, errors and logs relating to the software’s behavior, etc)
  • Software Updates
  • Session establishment signaling (e.g., exchange of IP/Port information between the Beam App and Beam SPS)

A session between the Beam SPS and the Beam App occurs via a direct peer-to-peer UDP (User Datagram Protocol) connection. A Beam session can flow either via:

  • a direct connection, where no Beam session data (audio/video) flows through the Beam Service, or
  • when it is not possible to establish a direct connection, a relay server is selected and used to forward the encrypted session traffic between the SPS and App.
  • If connection between either the Beam App to the relay or the Beam SPS to the relay is not possible, a session is not established.
  • Additional protection can be provided by employing a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

Suitable Technologies’ employees are not allowed to connect to customer SPSs without written permission from the site administrator. Employees will never connect to SPSs in a manner that could provide unknown or unseen audio/video access to customer’s facilities. All access to SPSs, whether routine or for troubleshooting, is auditable.

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Suitable Technologies can provide a packaged version of the relay software for the customer to run on their own network. If a Beam is configured to use an internal relay, session data (audio/video) never passes through Suitable Technologies’ Beam Service.

For more information, please contact info@suitabletech.com.

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The Pillars of Video Collaboration

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Companies have expanded globally and wish to work with the best of the best: have the best teammates, use the best vendors, and hire the best consultants. However, business operations take place in many different, often unique, facilities and keeping those locations connected is a constant challenge. Nearly every company has a team member who is vital to the success of the organization that is not co-located at headquarters or a central hub of activity. In fact, Forrester predicts that 43% of the US the workforce will be working remotely by 2016. To resolve this challenge, companies have invested heavily in promoting healthy communication between their remote and local teams with various technologies: the telephone, file sharing and project management software, and video communication when travel is not an option.

When purchasing a video communication tool people must consider its purpose: do they want it to be used in all collaboration spaces? Is video needed for colleagues who work from home? Will conferencing be used for formal meetings between multiple facilities? Companies have many options to select from, but they must consider how it benefits their unique organizational challenges. As a guide, here are the technologies we recommend for various methods of remote collaboration:

1. Video Calling (e.g. Google Hangouts and Skype) offers an informal ubiquitous video service over a low bandwidth connection. These services are best used for casual desk-to-desk calling or for distributed teams who work without a central office.

2. Video Conferencing (e.g. high–definition room systems) offers groups an ability to be face-to-face for a formal meeting. The technology is optimized for scheduled, multi-point, and room-to-room conferencing.

3. Remote Presence (e.g. a self contained, remote controlled, video conferencing device on wheels) is a new tool for natural collaboration in all workspaces outside the meeting room or office: labs, white board areas, factory floors, shops, cafeterias, manufacturing plants, showcases, tech centers, and more. Remote presence devices implement their video conferencing software differently in order to optimize for low latency, over a relatively low bandwidth internet connection, for proactive driving control. They come complete with cameras, a microphone array, speakers, a battery, and digital display.

Workplace interactions range from the very formal to the informal, from quick chats between colleagues to large presentations. Remote presence it is a distinct “third pillar” that adds to a company’s strategy where experts may be invited to join in team collaboration anywhere the action is happening. Removing geography as a barrier to recruiting helps teams hire the right people; especially small companies like startups who require the best. Notably, as referenced in a 2014 study from CB Insights 46% of the startups listed failed due to not having the right management team. In addition, remote presence is capable of connecting users to their teams throughout multiple operating locations a day, so those who find it most valuable are remote employees, consultants, clients, vendors, operations managers, and business travelers who wish to connect back to their headquarters while away.

When successful team dynamics require spontaneity, collaboration, or attendance at an event – only remote presence enables people to come together without boundaries. Video collaboration is required among global teams everywhere, including meetings between desks and conference rooms, but now this “third pillar” makes it easier for a person’s presence to be made available in all workspaces; thereby creating a healthy, transparent, and positive collaboration environment that mobilizes the workforce and provides a way for teams to have equal access to everyone.

96% of Users Agree Beam is Easy to Use

Suitable Technologies Announces BeamPro User Survey Results
The Beam® Smart Presence System receives positive feedback from customers for ease of use and overall quality of experience

ORLANDO, Fla. (INFOCOMM 2015) – June 16, 2015 – Suitable Technologies (http://www.suitabletech.com), the company that brings people together with the BeamPro™ Smart Presence System, today announced survey results compiled from 650 active BeamPro users. More than 96 percent of respondents stated BeamPro was easy to use, 90 percent were satisfied with their experience, and 86 percent would recommend BeamPro to a friend. Additionally, Suitable Technologies has achieved over 150 percent year-on-year (YoY) new user acquisition, fueled by the rapid adoption of its BeamPro device among universities and Fortune 100 companies in the Internet, Manufacturing, Medical, and Pharmaceutical sectors.

“We purchased BeamPro over two years ago in order to better manage software development projects with overseas teams in Russia, India, and China. Communication was always the biggest challenge, so I wanted something that would help us continue work beyond the conference room scenario,” said Jay Beavers, Software Engineering Manager, Microsoft Research.

BeamPro’s competitive advantage lies in the system’s usability for people of any technical ability including students and people who work-from-home. IT providers choose BeamPro for their company’s needs because the Beam solution delivers what is commonly expected from video conferencing technology. The Beam collaboration solution:

– Enables face-to-face participation in every work environment.
– Utilizes pre-existing communications infrastructure (4G and WiFi);
– Leverages a fully supported, cloud-based video service;
– Includes a complement of user management administrative tools;
– Deploys security features and encryption expected of professional video collaboration;
– Delivers a high-quality, highly reliable connection for important visits or encounters, and
– Is comfortable and easy to use with a personal computer (OSX 10.7+ and Windows 7 and 8).

“The strength of the BeamPro lies in its ability to enable face-to-face meetings where and when video conferencing is either unavailable or ineffective,” said Ira Weinstein, Sr. Analyst, Consultant, and Partner at Wainhouse Research.

Please visit Suitable Technologies, Inc. during InfoComm 2015 at Booth #5243.

About Suitable Technologies™
Suitable Technologies solves collaboration challenges by aiding teams with effective presence everywhere the action is happening. The Beam™ SPS (Smart Presence System), which includes products BeamPro and Beam+, is a collaboration solution that combines mobility and video conferencing for an immersive communication experience everywhere conversations take place. Beam enables people to be there, and to interact naturally by seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard, and the freedom to move about, from anywhere in the world. Founded in 2011, Suitable Technologies products are designed and manufactured at its headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. Follow @suitabletech on Twitter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, plus us on Google+, or elevate your communication at https://www.suitabletech.com.

All trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

How to Look Perfect on Beam

Want to look your best while connecting to a Beam at your workplace, on stage, or while visiting family with your new Beam+?

Before you start, make sure your computer is hard-wired into an ethernet port to assure you have excellent connectivity. Read more about Beam network requirements.

Step 1: Allocate a 6ft x 8ft area for your computer setup.

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Step 2: Mind your background, select a solid-colored wall (with a single piece of wall art). If using a backdrop, place the desk and easel 4ft apart, so the backdrop fills the entire video frame on the Beam application. DO NOT sit in front of a window (have lighting on your face instead of behind you).

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Step 3: Place the monitor at the rear edge of the table, and place the keyboard at the front edge of the table, so your eyes appear as if you are looking straight into the webcam (although you are actually looking at Beam application).

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Step 4: Position a LED light so it parallels the top of the monitor and the light points at your face.

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Step 5: Place the microphone toward the front edge of the table and keep it as close to your chin as possible while keeping it out of view of your webcam.

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Step 6: Position the Beam application window center shrunk to its smallest size underneath the webcam, at the top of the screen, and use the screen real-estate in the bottom half for other browser windows.

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Links to purchase the items in this post:

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Monitor
Easel
Computer
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Light
Speakers
Keyboard
Chair
Microphone Stand
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