This little telepresence robot is going to be hard to resist. It connects you with friends or co-workers via your smartphone. It's got three wheels and it allows remote users to control it via Skype to propel it around. Plus, it's small enough to fit in your computer bag. What's not to like?
Looking a lot like a computer mouse with wheels, Botiful is more than just a place to rest your speakerphone. While it can be used as a standalone device, when people place a Skype video call with the user, the Botiful best shows off its capabilities.
The caller will see directional controls that allow them to manipulate the little 'bot to become an active part of the conversation. Because the phone is held into place via a magnet and communicates via Bluetooth there is mobility galore.
The remote user can physically tilt the camera up and down to get a better view, not just look out from their screen. Plus, using the on-screen directional controls users can move the device around to get closer to those talking and get different perspectives instead of just staring straight ahead.
Right now, the prototype asks callers to use Skype on their Apple, PC or Linux based computer to make calls to the Android phone anchored on the 'bot, though a system for using an Android phone to make the Skype call is in the works. So are apps such as face recognition that will help automatically drive the device.
The robot charges via USB and comes in a variety of colors.
If you want one, California-based inventor Claire Delaunay can help you with that. She made the prototype in her garage and is so passionate about its ability to change personal communication she's launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise production funding.
She projects the retail price to be $299, but for a pledge of $199 you can have one if she makes it to production. So far, the funding is looking good
To really get a sense of how agile this device is, be sure to check out the video below. You'll see the Botiful get put through its paces in a variety of useful situations — and one that is just plain fun if you stick around to the very end of the video.