Oculus Turns Your Old Netbook Into A Telepresence Robot

I’m not sold on the idea of telepresence robots yet, although I’d probably enjoy it some.  Imagine a stand-in for your boss that you can kick, punch and give a finger to, so long as the camera’s turned the other way.  Yeah, fun.  We doubt the Oculus Telepresence Robot will be as fun, though.

Instead of an anthropomorphic robot like most telepresence automatons, the hardware just consists of a tray with wheels.  Yep, not much fun to kick around.  Like the Midbot rover, you’re supposed to put a computer on the tray, which will serve as the robot’s brains, camera, A/V and wireless communication unit.

Sized to hold small computers with screen sizes between 10 and 11 inches (you know, that netbook you’re no longer using from last year), the Oculus can act as a perfectly functional telepresence machine.  Except it’s a dwarf, so other people in your office are going to have to look down to talk to your body double.   The robot connects to the internet using the computer’s WiFi, allowing you to control it from your remote mad scientist lair in parts unknown.  The computer needs to be running Windows in order to interface with the robot, with remote control available via apps for mobile devices (Android and iOS only) or a PC software.

It features a motorized wheeled platform, an Arduino-compatible control board for the motor and servos (so you can command it to move), and a periscope on top that aligns with the computer’s camera.  The periscope is powered and can be controlled to tilt the camera, so you don’t have to keep talking to people’s knees (you can talk to their butts instead).

Creator Colin Adamson is currently raising funds at Kickstarter to produce the Oculus on a commercial scale.  You can reserve one now for $225.

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