Friday, January 07, 2011

iRobot introduces AVA telepresence robot at CES (!!!)

Didn't expect this so soon: iRobot unveiled its telepresence robot, AVA. The telepresence robot is compatible with iPads and Android devices and is designed to be ready for APPs.

iRobot CEO Colin Angle: "If you can program an iPad, you can program a robot."

The new robot has sonar and mapping, and Microsoft Kinect-style technology.

Here's PC Magazine's interview on YouTube:

Exciting stuff!

This isn't yet a shipping product, so we'll have to see if iRobot can be more successful this time than they were with the ConnectR product, which flubbed both the Roomba form factor (trip grandma, useless in offices, hospitals), and function (no on-board screen).

With the new robot, the tablet device is the screen. Pretty easy upgrades too — just load a new App on your tablet, or upgrade the tablet. I love the modular concept.

Price points are obviously the bugaboo with devices like this one. But there's a lot of potential uses, such as remote medical monitoring. I could also see the government using this at some point. Imagine how many more facilities a government inspector could keep tabs on at once without having to physically go to every location all the time? Executives could get a tour of key facilities without having to travel to China. This could also be a rare instance where a civilian product goes up the food chain to the military and enhance sentry-type robots, powered by the iPad.

1 comment:

Sean said...

That's actually a pretty cool product. I was VERY unimpressed with the new roomba's, because after three and a half years you would expect to see more innovation, especially with the higher prices. Last I heard, Roomba only had 2% market penetration, and nothing about the new models is going to change that much. If I were an investor, I would not be happy that Irobot seems to be sacrificing market share to prop up margins by failing to invest in R&D and raising prices.

This telepresence robot, on the other hand, seems to be a large step forward. It actually leverages some of the cool technology used on the military side (like SLAM navigation). Not sure why they don't also leverage that tech for the roomba, particularly with Neato hot on their heels.