Ever since this Wall-E-esque robot called QA debuted in late January, its maker Anybot has gotten quite a bit of attention. The big breakthrough here? A device that lets employees work through sick days.
QA is a telepresence robot, intended to simulate human presence with its body shape and language. Though it looks like only the barest sketch of a human, QA can provide a solid being for colleagues to interact with - and can give an absent person a way to look at and walk around the office even when they're home with a fever.
According to Anybots, QA is easy to use and is made with off-the-shelf parts:
QA operates simply, cleanly, and quietly while still giving you a full physical presence. It allows you to see and be seen, talk and listen, and collaborate in ways and places never before possible.
* Batteries: rechargeable Li ion, 4-6 hours of operation
* Connectivity: 802.11g wireless (optional 3G cellular)
* Cameras: two 5 MP color, with ir illuminator
* Video: 20 FPS @ 640×480 (depending on network)
* Audio: full duplex, high fidelity
* Display: 7 inch (18 cm) color LCD in chest
* Laser pointer: green 10 mW, points and draws shapes
* Navigation: LIDAR, 5.5 yard (5 meter) range
* Speed: up to 6 MPH (10 km/h)
* Wheels: two 12 inch (30 cm) diameter rubber
* Height: 5 foot (152 cm) standing, 2 foot (61 cm) bending
* Weight: 30 pounds (14 kg)
* Client software: PC and Mac compatible
In its description of QA, Anybots emphasizes how it can be great for working collaboratively, a process which is notoriously difficult for telecommuters who spend little time physically in offices with their colleagues. Implicit in this brave new vision of tomorrow, however, is an end to the excuse that you're too sick to go to work. Feeling ill? Fine - stay in bed, but send QA to work for you while you stay at the keyboard, propped up on pillows.