5 False Assumptions About Telepresence Robots
Updated: Oct 5
It's easy to misinterpret emerging 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. It's on robotics companies to defog and offer education around real-life business applications. Our team at Ava works to demystify telepresence robotics, and commercial robotics technology, overall.
Here are some common assumptions and communication challenges around telepresence robotics that we come across in our day-to-day:
1. A telepresence robot is essentially an iPad on a stick.
Like any other product comparison, telepresence robots aren't created equal. There are the lower cost economy vehicles, and then there are the fully-loaded, premier vehicles that offer style, comfort, and user-focused technology options.
Consumer or small operation telepresence robots (aka iPads on a stick) offer a completely different set of features and pricing structure than one of our Ava robots. Ava Telepresence Robots are designed and built to offer enterprise business features and benefits like:
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 want to drive, and the resources you have on deck.
2. Only IT professionals or highly technical people can use and manage telepresence robots.
Introducing a telepresence robot into your workflow is a bit more involved than plug-and-play, but it's likely 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 users who can benefit from using a telepresence robot.
We have a variety of customer contacts who manage Ava usage and serve as administrators 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 their on-site teams to prospects teleporting in for virtual tours of hotels and event 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 friction for some companies. Like any other implementation, telepresence robots need a defined use case that justifies the investment.
A few upfront 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 or viability, you can always reach out to our team to learn more and get more information about 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 rolling around sterile white rooms. But there's a lot more to workplace robots then 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, and educational settings.
One of the ways we measure success, in any environment, is when our customers organically expand their users and use cases. For example, our customer, Salmon Health, initially used Ava for visitation capabilities in response to Covid19 restrictions. Now, they use Ava for physician/specialist appointments, larger healthcare team collaboration, and to facilitate outside services and vendors for the benefit of their residents.
5. Telepresence robots' goal is to replace people in the workplace.
This might be easiest myth to displace--because telepresence robots promote human connection, not replace it with artificial intelligence. Telepresence robots provide a more immersive, spontaneous, and human interaction that isn't otherwise possible.
The vision of robots coexisting in the workplace with people is at the core of Ava's robotics technology and design. Telepresence robots shouldn't disrupt your people or how/where they work. It should seamlessly integrate into your workflow and facilitate better business collaboration and communication.
The more businesses can appreciate and approach the concept of robots coexisting with and enabling people in the workplace, the more effective this technology will become in driving business results.