5 False Assumptions About Telepresence Robots
Updated: Jun 1
It's easy to draw some quick conclusions about tech applications from product, purpose, and/or investment POVs. There is always room for more clarity around "how it works," "why it costs that much," and "who is this really for?"
Robotics is no different--if anything, it's the poster child for surface-level understanding (and misunderstanding). It rests on the shoulders of robotics companies to defog and educate businesses around use cases, user experience, product differentiation, etc. Especially now with telepresence gaining momentum in the hybrid work enablement arena.
We get a lot of feedback from prospects, customers, and fellow industry experts when it comes to barriers and myths around robots in the workplace. But when it comes to telepresence in particular, there are common threads to unravel.
1. A telepresence robot is basically an iPad put on a stick, with some wheels.
Telepresence robots aren't created equal--and that's OK! There are the lower cost economy vehicles, and then there are the fully-loaded, premier vehicles priced to deliver on design, comfort, and user-focused technology.
Consumer or small operation telepresence robots (which ARE more like iPads on a stick) offer a completely different set of features and pricing structure than an Ava robot, for example. Ava Telepresence Robots are designed and built with features and benefits for enterprise applications:
Full autonomy and collision avoidance
Session scheduling and calendar features
Cisco Webex integration with enterprise-level video quality
A range of camera/view options, including standing, sitting, and zoom-in options
There's no right or wrong answer. It all depends on the problem you are trying to solve, the result you desire, and your workplace needs.
2. Only IT professionals or highly technical people can use and manage telepresence robots.
Introducing a telepresence robot into your workflow is more user-friendly and intuitive than you think. A lot of companies run into barriers when it comes to understanding what it takes to get started and the types of internal and external users who can benefit from using a telepresence robot.
We have a variety of customer contacts who manage Ava robots within their companies. They aren't all highly technical people. And when it comes to users, it's across the board: from family and friends visiting long term care residents to remote executives collaborating with on-site teams to prospects taking virtual tours of hospitality spaces. All you need to teleport into a space is a device for the app and reliable WiFi.
3. If you have video conferencing capabilities in place, telepresence robots aren't worth the investment.
In some cases, this is true. But video conferencing does have its limitations that create accessibility and satisfaction friction for some companies. Like any other implementation, telepresence robots need a defined use case that justifies the investment.
A few questions to consider:
Do we have remote employees, prospects, vendors, consultants, clients/customers who would benefit from a more immersive real-feel experience?
Do we depend on our physical space to drive business results? (e.g. event space or facility tours)
Are there other technology implementations that would benefit from increased remote monitoring?
Are we looking to make an impact with regard to cost savings on travel, in-office costs, protective equipment, and employee safety?
For a closer look at making a business case for telepresence robots: How to Know if Telepresence Robots are Right for Your Business
Telepresence robots aren't for everyone or every business. If you're unsure about defining use cases, viability, or ROI...
4. Telepresence robots are only meant for specific environments like manufacturing floors, hospitals, and lab rooms.
Robots, in general, are often visualized on assembly lines, picking things up and putting them down, or maybe even rolling around clean lab rooms. But there's a lot more to workplace robots than performing isolated, static tasks.
Ava Telepresence Robots are actively being used in manufacturing, healthcare, and pharma environments, but they're also facilitating collaboration, communication, and operations in corporate offices, hotels, long term care communities, innovation centers, retail environments, and educational settings.
5. Telepresence robots (all robots, in fact) work to replace people in the workplace.
This is a big one, but also the easiest to bust. Telepresence robots promote human connection, not replace it with artificial intelligence. They provide a more immersive, spontaneous, and human interaction that isn't otherwise possible for those who are not in the physical space.
The vision of robots working with and for people is at the core of Ava's robotics technology and design. Telepresence robots shouldn't disrupt. It should seamlessly integrate into your existing frameworks and naturally facilitate better business collaboration and communication.