A growing number of companies are selling telepresence robots _ mobile video-conferencing systems that give remote employees a physical presence at work. At Suitable Technologies "beam" to work on the telepresence machine their company sells. (Dec. 24)
iRobot and Cisco have teamed to bring the Ava 500 video collaboration robot to market. The robot blends iRobot's autonomous navigation with Cisco's TelePresence to enable people working off-site to participate in meetings and presentations where movement and location spontaneity are important. The new robot is also designed to enable mobile visual access to manufacturing facilities, laboratories, customer experience centers and other remote facilities.
In a jaw-dropping feat of engineering, electronics turn a person's thoughts into commands for a robot. Using a brain-computer interface technology pioneered by University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He, several young people have learned to use their thoughts to steer a flying robot around a gym, making it turn, rise, dip, and even sail through a ring.
The technology may someday allow people robbed of speech and mobility by neurodegenerative diseases to regain function by controlling artificial limbs, wheelchairs, or other devices. And it's completely noninvasive: Brain waves (EEG) are picked up by the electrodes of an EEG cap on the scalp, not a chip implanted in the brain.