KUBI – the inexpensive telepresence "robot" for tablets
The burgeoning telepresence market continues to gather steam with Revolve Robotics the latest venture to introduce a low-cost telepresence system through crowd-funding. But unlike the others, KUBI (Japanese for "neck") is mainly stationary. It's essentially a tablet stand that can hold a tablet in portrait or landscape mode and allows the caller to remotely pan and tilt the tablet to change their point of view.
The device can hold tablets with screen sizes ranging from 7.9" to 10.6", which can be tilted left and right 300 degrees, and up and down 90 degrees by callers using an app available for iOS and Android.
“We wanted to distill where the value is in a telepresence product,” Revolve Robotics founder Marcus Rosenthal told Wired. “We realized it’s the ability to look around the room and be present, not necessarily move from room to room.”
That may seem like an odd statement, given that mobility is the main selling point of telepresence robots versus video calling. However, KUBI doesn't really qualify as a robot. It's a simple, cost-effective addition to standard teleconferencing systems, but chances are good that, unless you're having a round-table meeting, you probably won't find that it adds any significant value to a standard video call.
While the Helios failed to reach its funding goal, the Botiful, which works with an iPhone or Android phone, successfully scraped past its goal and will begin shipping next year. The difference is, the Botiful is able to move around a room, allowing you to chase a pet or toddler.
You can view Revolve Robotics' KUBI in the following preview video and track its progress at its indiegogo campaign page. If it reaches its funding goal, KUBI is expected to retail for US$250.