Email, the internet, and a host of other advancements in office technology have finally made the dream of working from home a reality. But sometimes you just need to be in the office, and thanks to a collaboration between iRobot and Cisco, you still don't need to change out of your pajamas to get chewed out by your boss.
The Ava 500 merges iRobots' Ava robotics platform with Cisco video conferencing hardware, including a high-resolution camera and a generous 21.5-inch HD display. And thanks to the robot's ability to autonomously navigate its way through a space, controlling the Ava 500 is as easy as playing an iPad game.
Remote users either select where they want the robot to go via an interactive map on the iPad's display, or tell it to head to a specific room, or even a specific employee's name. The Ava 500 does the rest, allowing the telepresent employee to ride along in a 'public' mode where they're able to chat with people enroute, or a 'private' mode where the camera and display are turned off until they arrive at their destination. When the meeting or conversation is over, the robot is then released and automatically returns to its charging station.
Since it's targeted as a corporate solution, and not a way for you to spend more virtual time with your grandparents, iRobot is mum on the Ava 500's pricing details at this point. But when it's available in first part of 2014, it's safe to assume that taping a cheap tablet to a Roomba will be a cheaper solution for home use.