Robots for Hire and Wormholes in the Office

“We are studying the social, technical — the weirdness factor — of me becoming a robot,” said Lisa Mead, a service delivery leader at Steelcase. “How do we apply our 100 years’ worth of knowing how people work effectively and expand it to now include what a person needs to operate a robot, what makes a space friendly for a robot?”

It’s all part of an investment by the world’s largest office furniture manufacturer to anticipate the future of telepresence — the technology and practice of transporting your image and voice across distances — to save companies time and money.

Friend of Make and Grand Rapids resident, Matthew Gryczan writes about Steelcase’s experimentation with robotic telepresence. I particularly like the idea of hiring a robot to go somewhere I don’t have to travel, but I’m not sure why that’s different than Skype.

One thought on “Robots for Hire and Wormholes in the Office

  1. Hi Dale, I should have added a couple of examples to show the applications of anybots. A 15-year-old high schooler who is home bound because of a kidney transplant can now roam the halls of Knox City High with his classmates due to an anybot. “The Vgo has integrated Lyndon back into the classroom where he is able to participate in classroom discussions and activities as if he were physically there,” his mother says. More importantly, the Vgo has given back his daily socialization that illness has taken away.” Here’s the link to the story: business, someone theoretically could save a business trip by hiring a videographer in another city to visit a potential job site and take online video of, say, an office space for a job quote. The customer could direct the videographer by cell phone to move and shoot as desired. Or even direct a person to do the same thing with a notebook and Skype connection. But it is becoming possible for someone to hire a robot in another city to do the same thing and simply run the anybot from the comfort of his or her office.Steelcase pointed out that an anybot takes the meeting anywhere, instead of asking people to join a meeting in HDTV conference room. Best, Matt

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