President Obama greets Alice Wong via Beam during the ADA’s 25th Anniversary

Featured

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)

obama-best

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

A Glimpse of the Future: Singularity University’s Annual Exponential Manufacturing Summit

We’re thrilled to be attending Singularity University’s (SU) Exponential Manufacturing Summit in Boston this week, which is dedicated to bringing together “the world’s brightest executives, entrepreneurs and investors… to prepare them for the changes brought forth by unstoppable technological progress.”

With a mind-boggling array of presentations, panel discussions, demonstrations, and symposiums from some of the most compelling innovators who stand at the forefront of technology — including SU co-founders, visionary futurists Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil — the goal of the Summit is to “educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to foster universal abundance and address humanity’s grand challenges today.”

Highlights from the first day included a thought-provoking presentation on Advanced Robotics by Sarah Bergbreiter, associate professor and acting director of the Maryland Robotics Center, and an “Ask Me Anything” session with Diamandis, who Beamed in from New York City to present to the more than 600 attendees in Boston:

IMG_2126.JPG

During the session, Diamandis spoke about where we’re heading, thanks to the “complete dematerialization” of the supply chain, and the reimagination of manufacturing. While according to Diamandis we’re “a couple of stages away from the perfect situation,” (i.e. nano technology, which can create anything), he says that we are heading into a world where we can easily go from mind, to manufacturing, to market, as everyone (all 8 billion of us within seven to eight years) will be connected. At this point, he foretells manufacturing becoming “massively democratized” worldwide, with VR, AI, and other advances such as 3D printing, leading the way.

If you’re interested in viewing some of the incredible presentations, head over to SU’s Facebook page, like it, and you will be able to view some of today’s most influential innovators and thought leaders sharing their insights about the future of design, work, production and supply chain.

The theme of day two focused on innovation, both internal and external, by fostering innovation from within and externally by effectively leveraging startups, public/private partnerships, and labs; while the final day focused was on how to apply all that was learned in the first two days of the Summit. The “Deep Dive” programming puts a focus on those on the front lines that are driving advances at all points in manufacturing, from production throughout the entire supply chain.

This fast-paced, information-packed gathering put the spotlight on the Fourth Manufacturing Revolution and the disruptive change that is being instigated by exponential technologies including robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), energy, additive manufacturing, biological manufacturing, and more.

Thanks to Singularity University for an amazing, awe-inspiring three-day journey into the infinite potential of exponential manufacturing.

Beaming from Bordeaux: How “Mummybot” Can Be Home Each Evening

                       Multi-Tasking-Business-Mom

When UK-based computing researcher James Scott’s wife, Claire Martin, was offered a year-long opportunity to work in Bordeaux, France the only hesitation was leaving her family, which includes two young children, five days a week. James recalled using Beam for a six-month period to attend weekly meetings at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters from his home in Cambridge, and immediately thought of Beam to help keep his family intimately connected throughout her absence. Now several months into the arrangement, Beaming from Bordeaux allows “Mummybot” to participate in family life in numerous important ways.

BEAM: Tell us a bit about yourself, and why and how you came to use Beam.

JAMES SCOTT (JS): I live in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and I am a researcher looking at “ubiquitous computing” – including some work on remote presence. I have used Beam at Microsoft, so I was quite familiar with the device.

When my wife, who’s a cardiologist, got a great opportunity to go work in Bordeaux for a year, I wanted to make sure for the kids, who are five and seven, that she could be around as much as possible. That’s when it occurred to me to get a Beam. I mean, if you work near where you live, then the expectation is you’ll be home for dinner. If you don’t, then you won’t… but Beam changes that. Now there’s no reason Claire can’t be “home” for dinner. But I use Beam, too, when I have to be away for work.

BEAM: What is the benefit using Beam over say, video chat like Skype?

JS: Beam is so different than video chat. Claire can just turn up. She can stand up at the dinner table, and she can go to the piano and help the kids with their lessons. She even helps with homework. Our little one, Amy, puts her reading book on the kitchen counter, and the downward facing camera allows Claire to do the reading with her.

And it’s not just about homework. It’s about asking, “How was your day?” and keeping aware of what’s happening. Kids want to interact with their mum.

CLAIRE MARTIN (CM): The image I see through Beam is good enough to read Amy’s books, and the sound quality is just about good enough to do piano practice, which is a pretty high bar!  

BEAM: How did your kids and other family members react to your wife Beaming in?

JS: It was new for a day, and then it became second nature very quickly, particularly for the kids.

It’s interesting to talk to people about it – some see relying on it as very dystopian. But isn’t the alternative worse? When I’m working late, and I have a half hour I can “go home,” it’s a good solution. Of course it’s always better to be in person, but using Beam to be there is better than Skype, and both are better than nothing at all.

BEAM: Does the Beam have a nickname at this point? What do you and your children call it?

JS: It’s “Mummybot.” And when I’m on it, it’s “Robodaddy.” I can imagine many people nickname their Beams.

BEAM: How has Beam changed your home life and your daily routines?

JS: The fact that she can be there day in and day out, and help – as parents do – is tremendous. When both of you are there, you share the load, you eat together, you have family time. And that’s important.

Typically in evening when I’m trying to make dinner, change the kids’ clothes in their PE bags, and do other chores, it would be impossible to interact with the children at the same time. Claire’s able to move around, thanks to the Beam’s long battery life – and that mobility is key to make the experience work. She’s “home” every evening, between when kids get to the house until bedtime. And she reads the bedtime story.

CM: The kids’ bedroom is on the ground floor, and this means that I can move independently between the living room, the dining room and into the kids’ room. I find the Beam very easy to steer both through my laptop or my phone. The battery life is excellent – in fact, I don’t even know what it is as I haven’t got close to running out, and docking at the charging point at the end of the evening is simple, too.

BEAM: Is there anything that Claire can’t do via the Beam that you wished she could?

JS: Some things are different. Claire wouldn’t watch television with me through the Beam; it doesn’t seem like the obvious thing to do. We can’t play table tennis together (not yet, anyways). And there’s a specific division of labor: I have to do cooking, washing up, fix the PE bags, but Claire will do what she can remotely.

Discipline is also interesting. I’m trying to get the children to respond to Claire on Beam, but it’s easier for them to ignore her. So, weirdly, I’m trying to train them to take instructions from a robot.

BEAM: What has been the most surprising thing about having a Beam at home?

JS: It doesn’t matter where Claire is – she can pop on the Beam. My original expectation was she’d leave work, go to her home in Bordeaux, and Beam in. But actually I think she uses it just as much from her phone, her laptop at work, while on the tram, or wherever she may be. She doesn’t have to be in a particular physical place – it’s great you can get on your phone app and just be there.

Suitable Tech___

Amy and Robodaddy

By Amy Scott, age 5½

What’s New in Robotic Technology: 5 Innovations to Help Humans Work Smarter

Earlier this month we wrote about how Beams are bringing us all together. They are also helping us all work smarter – and there’s a lot happening in the world of robotics!

To quote the author of this piece about Veo Robotics, people and robots working together can accomplish far more than either one on its own. We love that sentiment! Veo is working to give robots spacial awareness so that they can work more efficiently with people – kind of like the way a Beam navigates so smoothly without “tripping” or bumping into objects it encounters.

In an example of the way that robotics technology spills over into other fields, Chinese robot maker Dobot used the same technology they created for robot arms to build a super-steady three-axis gimbal that moves along with the user, even when the user is moving quickly. (For example, on a bike or a skateboard.) The company is also working on industrial robot arms.

Georgia Tech built an aerial robot (named Tarzan!) that can swing above fields to check on the health needs of growing crops. Tarzan can detect problems and course-correct with pesticides or fertilizer. The design of the unit – moving around in the air instead of on the ground – solves the problem of navigating muddy fields and also means that the agricultural caretaker won’t run over the very plants it’s trying to protect.

 

How about a snake robot? Kongsberg Maritime created a slithery version of Tarzan that tends to the structures on the sea bed instead of farms. The remotely-operated helper can move around in small places, inspect and even perform routine fixes.

Five Montana Tech students had roughly the same idea, but wanted to put their robot to use on other planets. They’re participating in the 2017 NASA Robotic Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center later this month. The idea is to create a robot that requires as little attention from the team on Earth as possible. Teams get more points for higher levels of automation.

We can’t wait to see what’s next…

Presenting BeamPro PTZ/PTZ+L: 2 New Beam Presence Systems for the Healthcare Industry

NEW BEAM

Beam Presence Systems, used by more than 40% of the Fortune 50 Companies, has been providing professionals with superior videoconferencing capabilities since 2011. Now, with the introduction of the BeamPro PTZ and BeamPro PTZ+L, the Healthcare Industry has two new, superior telepresence options, which combine safe mobility without boundaries and superzoom-supported videoconferencing solutions to bring together professionals, patients and their families.

Telemedicine, a powerful tool for convenient medical care that connects doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers with patients, is seeing a rapid rise in popularity. According to a recent study by Jackson Healthcare, 90% of healthcare executives surveyed reported developing or implementing a telemedicine program. And they project that the global telemedicine market will expand at a compounded annual rate of 14.3%, from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $36.2 billion by 2020.

Both new models of BeamPro speak eloquently to the power and potential of telemedicine. Featuring optimized face-to-face contact, the pan-tilt-zoom camera and eye-safe laser pointer with 3D camera-assisted tracking facilitate accurate observation, and capture and recall all details necessary to serve patients and trainees. Preset points can be used to allow a more natural way to communicate.

BeamPro PTZ and PTZ-L+ enable medical professionals to effectively collaborate with specialists, serve geographically remote patients and train out-of-town colleagues, while eliminating travel time and expenses. Further, they can also easily perform personal follow-up to address the needs of patients and colleagues. The Beam management software allows Beam owners to manage access to all devices in their organizations, ensuring optimal levels of security. In addition, encrypted point-to-point communications bypass servers to ensure data transfer is private and secure.

“While many teleconference options exist today, none are specifically designed with the freedom for the user to move around in a remote place anywhere in the world, at any time, without latency or connectivity issues,” said Bo Preising, Chief Strategy and Product Officer, Suitable Technologies. “For healthcare providers, this ability has massive implications for improving collaboration, while saving time between patient visits, as well as decreasing patient wait times. The result is better and faster clinical and financial outcomes.”

Current versions of the BeamPro and the new PTZ+L model are undergoing product evaluation with select health care providers, including UC Davis HEALTH, who is reviewing our new product. More than 25 health care providers currently use Beams in urgent care, post-acute care and other traditional care settings. The new product line will be available for purchase later this year.

For more information, please see the BeamPro PTZ+L brochure. Health care providers interested in piloting the BeamPro PTZ+L may contact sales@suitabletech.com.

 

3 Ways Telepresence Robots Are Changing the Game for Virtual Employees

Networking ImagePeople who work remotely are becoming more and more commonplace; in fact, a recent Gallup poll reported that in 2016, 43% of employed Americans worked from home at least some of the time.

And the happiest among them worked 60% to 80% from home, with only a day or two in the office.

Video conferencing has in large part made this workforce shift a reality, allowing for real-time, face-to-face communication. Still, those interactions are relatively impersonal, and for the most part, you need a scheduled meeting to make those connections happen.

So how can you have a more personal, organic working relationship with on-site colleagues when you’re a virtual employee?

Enter, the Beam Smart Presence System – a robotic avatar that gives a remote worker an actual physical presence, dramatically increasing the possibilities for collaboration, creativity and enhanced productivity.

Here are three ways that Beam boosts teamwork and camaraderie:

1) Spontaneous, informal connections happen: In any given work day, much of what gets accomplished is not done in a formal setting but instead in those casual moments where people naturally exchange ideas: walking down the hall together, chatting in the company kitchen or popping over to a coworker’s desk. Telepresence robots allow you to show up wherever and whenever you need to in a given day.

2) It’s more of a human experience: Beam allows you to literally see eye-to-eye with others; standing about human height, and with the ability to maneuver around, a person-controlled (piloted) robot provides a more immersive, face-to-face experience. This makes it much easier for your co-workers to think about you as a person, and not an abstract idea on a video screen, far, far away.

For example, Evite CEO Victor Cho uses the Beam to make meaningful connections with the people he manages. From greeting a new employee in the New York office from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles to dropping in on a Thanksgiving potluck lunch when he was working from home one day, Cho says, “The amazing thing is that it’s just like I’m there in person. It’s more personal.”

3) No more FOMO: With the ability to go where the action is, if there’s a spur of the moment meeting or even drinks after work, your Beam can easily tag along.


And this doesn’t just apply to in-house gatherings; Beams are showing up more and more at conferences (i.e. Robotics Alley, SingularityU India Summit) and gatherings where travel is time or cost prohibitive. Now, instead of missing out, you can join your co-workers and colleagues at far flung events and be the life of the party; everyone loves interacting with Beams — and their pilots.

Thanks to telepresence robots, working remotely is no longer the same as working from a distance. For the record number of employees working from home instead of commuting every day, being a physical part of the workplace allows them to foster stronger connections, expand collaboration opportunities and strengthen bonds with co-workers.

In Case You Missed It: How Beams Are Bringing Us Together

In case you missed these articles, we wanted to share a“robot roundup” of stories that make us beam — with pride. Our goal is to enhance the quality of life for the people who use our telepresence systems by helping them make connections and extend their world in profoundly human ways.

Museums, “Moe-bot” and The Mob

Pamela Forth’s fiancé, Rob Sprong, had little mobility after a car accident left him a quadriplegic. Determined to broaden Sprong’s horizons, Forth found that the Mob Museum in Las Vegas is one of 10 national museums that uses the Beam Pro to offer virtual visits with what they affectionately call a “Moe-bot.” This CNET article explores how telepresence technology is opening the door for those with physical disabilities to enjoy a variety of cultural experiences.

“So many people treat quadriplegics like, since their body is broken, their mind should be too,” Forth said. “It doesn’t occur to them that it’s the same person.”

Using Robots for Remote Work Adds Up to a Win For Employers and Employees Alike

2

Boutique accounting firm Navolio & Tallman LLP is dedicated to using technology to allow their employees more flexible work schedules and the ability to work off-site, but they also want to ensure that their remote staff stays connected. With the addition of a Beam, face-to-face meetings, training sessions and even lunch breaks are now viable, bonding experiences. This LinkedIn Pulse post shares how using a Beam to support employee engagement is part of the reason that Navolio & Tallman is included in Accounting Today’s rankings of the Best Accounting Firms to Work For.

Going to This Principal’s Office is a Pleasure, Not a Punishment

For Chicago’s Mann Elementary School students, a visit from the principal isn’t unusual – but this time, it was via Beam and included several special guests. Consulting company Accenture brought in a Beam and Microsoft Surface Hub to the public school, enabling Mann students to chat with Accenture employees from Chicago to Bangalore, India. The fifth graders also used their school-issued laptops to learn the basics of coding.

“The whole project is to get kids excited about the future of technology,” teacher librarian Kathy Rolfes told the Chicago Tribune.

Bringing the World, One Human at a Time, Closer Together

Scott

In its Guru Series, BBC contributor, author and CEO Coach, Steve Tappin, spoke to Suitable Technologies founder Scott Hassan about the implications of using a beam for remote work. While they discussed the benefits from never having to commute again to allowing companies to bring in talent from all over the world, the theme overall was about the enhanced interpersonal experience telepresence technology affords:

“They’re really just humans talking to humans from a distance. If you use a Beam long enough you very quickly lose that emotional distance,” said Hassan.  

Denver Broncos Get a Kick Out of STEM

Denver Broncos long snapper Casey Kreiter is a science super fan. While pursuing a career in the NFL, he was also a student teacher at Iowa City Regina High School. Now that he’s an official Bronco, the organization is helping him realize his other dream: to keep teaching, regardless of where he is physically located. Using a BeamPro, Kreiter is helping his students complete a STEM project this school year.

“Some people from the organization reached out and they had already had a STEM initiative in place through the Broncos,” Kreiter told CBS2 Iowa’s Mitch Fick. “So they heard I was a science teacher and wanted to see if I was interested in doing anything. I’ve always said, ‘I love playing football, but I love teaching also.’ ”

These are a few of our favorite recent human-interest stories – check our blog and social channels in the near future for more stories about Beam bringing people together.

 

Where to Find Robots at SXSW 2017

South By Southwest® (SXSW), the eagerly anticipated, annual conference in Austin, TX is known as the place to look for the year’s most compelling emerging technologies. Dedicated to giving international professionals the chance to learn, participate and network, the focus is always on what’s next – and predictably, robotics and AI dominate this year’s offerings in the Interactive track of the conference.

With nearly 50 sessions related to and about robotics planned ranging from  from “Intelligent Future,” to the role our industry plays in Code, Design, Food, Government, Health, Film, Sports and Music – robots are, quite literally, everywhere at SXSW.

So while you might come to see everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden speak to the Wu-Tang Clan perform, you’ll stay for the compelling, cutting-edge presentations and discussions at SXSW Interactive, which co-founder and 2017 Mentor Louis Black says, “has probably been the biggest of its kind in the world since 2007.”

T  Whether you attend SXSW or not, these topics expose what’s on everyone’s mind when it comes to the role of robotics and telepresence technologies today and in the not-so-distant future. To get the latest on how humans and robots will interact and where you can expect to see them in your everyday life, the following sessions caught our eye;

Interacting With (and via) Robots:

Robots Can Restore Our Humanity

March 11, 2017 | 12:30PM – 1:30PM | Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 E. 4th Street, Salon K

1st.png

Robots and AI very well might be the catalysts that we needed to redefine work and restore our humanity. Now that technology can handle the algorithm-driven, standardized, repetitive heavy lifting, we may well have the chance to redefine work to emphasize all that we humans bring to the table that robots and AI can’t, including creativity, curiosity and emotional and social intelligence. This begs the question, then, how will employers respond to and facilitate this major transformation?

The Sound of Robots

March 15, 2017 | 3:30PM – 4:30PM | JW Marriott, 110 E. 2nd Street, Salon 6

You are already well-acquainted with the sound of robots – perhaps just this morning you asked Siri to text a friend or Alexa to give you the weather report. But there are deeper issues that need to be examined related to the rise in humans conversing with robots, including the influence of voice on perceptions of robot personality, if robots should be listening to our private conversations (or not), and even if robo-snark is appropriate in response to a person being provocative or downright rude. (Just try asking Siri if she’s intelligent…)

I Speak Robot

March 12, 2017 | 11:00AM – 12:00PM | JW Marriott, 110 E. 2nd Street, Salon 8

This session examines the question, “How important is it that we design robots to communicate emotions and intentions like humans?” To the presenters of the panel who hail from both academia and the private sector, while there is some push for human qualities in robots, there will also be some ’bot-specific characteristics (i.e., a movement, a lurch or even a new form of communication) that will then become its own new language: robot.

Democratizing the Industrial Robot

March 14, 2017 | 12:30PM – 1:30PM | JW Marriott, 110 E. 2nd Street, Salon 7

3rd

Robots working in industrial settings is nothing new; since the 1970s, they’ve become commonplace handling repetitive tasks in well-defined, restricted ways. In the next 10 years, this will continue with one big difference: the environment will change and more and more, robots will become “cobots,” working side by side on the factory floor with human beings. This represents a huge shift, one that requires robots to work in unstructured environments, interact often with people and guarantee superior sensitivity for human safety. The possibilities are major, as are the implications of the evolution of the industrial workplace.

Redefining Presence to Transform Healthcare:

Merging Senior Care and Technology at Home

Mar 14, 2017 | 3:30PM – 4:30PM | Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez, Room 9C

2nd

Technological advances have paved the way for older adults to age at home. As health tech innovators expand their role in the longevity marketplace, there are both opportunities and challenges, such as conflicting healthcare models that may curtail innovation and adoption. This panel of health practitioners who are also tech entrepreneurs will discuss the positive impact technology has on seniors, how it is evolving attitudes about aging and what progressive actions are needed to further the aging at home movement.

The Future of Dynamic Innovations in Healthcare

Mar 11, 2017 | 9:30AM – 10:30AM | Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez, Room 9AB

Healthcare innovators are helping doctors use technology in ways you’ve never before imagined, from making virtual house calls for simple diagnoses and treatments to automating patient engagement and allowing doctors and patients to remotely discuss pre- and post-surgical care. This session explores today’s telemedicine and also gives a glimpse at the future of remote health care.

If you can’t make it to SXSW, you can check out their live stream going on during the event or post-conference videos on their YouTube channel. While we won’t be there this year, we are thrilled to see that our industry is well represented by such a diverse array of visionaries, teachers, developers, designers, professionals and of course, a perennial favorite — this guy:

LASTPIC

At Suitable Technologies, we see a bright future of humans and robots working together to solve the biggest problems we face – from the future of work to education to healthcare to simply being able to have a face-to-face conversation with anyone in the world – we’ll be able to do more together.