Telepresence Meets iRobot, Combination More Creepy Than Expected


Two stories surfaced this week that give me the creeps just a little. Both relate to telepresence and both beg the question: “is this a signal of what’s to come, or just a novel deployment that we’ll forget about in a month.”

Let’s start with the one that carefully tiptoes the line between bizarre and scary…

RoboBonobo

(Image source: Extreme Tech)

Here’s the description of what BonoboRobo is from an article posted on ExtremeTech:

“What you’re looking at really is a bonobo bust stuck on top of a mobile, robotic base. Dubbed the RoboBonobo, the robot will eventually be controlled by apes armed with wireless Android tablets — much in the same way that a soldier remotely pilots a UAV. Like a military drone, too, RoboBonobo is even equipped with a weapon: A water cannon.”

Two thoughts come to mind when I read about this:

1.) I know a lot of people that have a difficult time operating an Android tablet. Boy are they gonna feel dumb when they hear about this.

2.) I need to start feeding bonobos at the zoo because clearly the storyline depicted in “Planet of the Apes” will soon come to fruition.(That’s a joke for those of you without a sense of humor).

As it turns out, you can be a part of human-kinds eventual demise by helping to fund the project on Kickstarter! If you read up on the project’s plan, it’s not as horrifying as the headline suggests. In fact, the main objective of the project is to explore our ability to communicate and interact with apes; something that can inform our understanding of human behavior in some ways as well.

Keyboard used by apes on Android Tablet

Robot Doctor

Next month, patients in Singapore hospitals will have the chance to be treated by their doctor via a telepresence robot. As you can see from the image above, the robots look more like a SoniCare toothbrush than what you might have imagined. That said, it’s still a pretty impressive implementation:

“The basic idea is that a doctor can sit at a computer terminal in one place and make rounds via telepresence somewhere else, interacting with patients through the robot.” – via Popsci

Ideally, this kind of technology will allow doctors to scale their services. It could also mean that some day even doctors can work from home.

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