Starting today, February 1st, 2011 Anybots is officially shipping its telepresence robots with a slew of new features that could change business travel forever.
I’m a big fan of the Anybot, who made our epic list of the hottest robots in 2010. Customers who pre-ordered an Anybot for a whopping $15,000 will begin receiving their orders this week. Customers who order at this site today will begin receiving their units in March.
“I’ve been doing videoconferencing for years,” said Stephen Wolfram, a well-known physicist and founder of the computational knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha who tested the Anybot earlier this year. “But the mobility of “being a robot” was interesting. It was surprisingly useful to be able to wander around an office as an Anybot. And attending a reception as a robot, people seemed to get used to “me” surprisingly quickly.”
The Anybot QB is a telepresence robot that can be remotely controlled from a home computer. Send the Anybot to the conference room or to an employee’s desk to say hi. The Anybot’s head displays a live webcam video so employees can see their co-worker’s digital face. Wired describes it as “a self-propelled Skype-cam on a stick,” while Slashgear said it looked “a whole lot like a frisbee stuck on top of a Segway.”
The Anybot weighs 35 pounds and is 5 feet tall. It runs on eight hours of battery life (perfect for an average work day), supports 802.11g Wi-Fi, comes with a 5-megapixel video camera and zooms around at a top speed of 3.5 miles per hour. A 320 x 240 LCD screen on the bot offers videos, photos and acts as a control panel.
Imagine sitting lying in bed in the wintertime drinking tea at your home in Brooklyn and being able to leap into the Anybot for a meeting in midtown. The robot, which I test drove last summer, can be controlled through a web browser with the up and down controls on a computer keyboard. The Anybots’ new features include HD zoom, wireless roaming, and two-way streaming video (best turned off if you’re in your PJs). Unfortunately it does not have bobble head action.
After a few months of beta testing for Anybots, I’m completely in love with it. At first I thought the bot would pay for itself if it could just replace one international trip, but now I realize that the real value is letting me preserve spontaneous interactions at the office even when I’m thousands of miles away. I can jump into the bot at any time and work casually with my team. There’s no need to schedule formal meetings or herd everyone around a speaker phone. It’s easy to use and it keeps me connected. And it’s got a laser beam attached to its head – which, let’s be honest, is just good product design. -Phil Libin, Founder & CEO, Evernote
Anybots, based in Mountainview, California, is led by Trevor Blackwell from YCombinator and Bob Christopher, formerly CEO of UGOBE/Pleo. While they company won’t divulge specific numbers, Blackwell, Anybots’ Founder & CEO, told Forbes last November that the company already had 100 pre-orders for the first Anybots production run. So at $15,000 a pop, the company’s first run is looking pretty good.
A photo of me, @SethPorges and the Anybot at CES 2011 in Las Vegas. And yes, that is an R2D2 suit.