Kicking the Remote Presence Device Tires with Beam


Remote Presence Devices or RPDs are finally becoming mainstream with products such as the Beam from Suitable Technologies. Today I kicked the tires of one (virtually of course) thanks to friend of the lab Dan Kildahl. I toured the newly renovated marketing offices at Oracle HQ. My first impression was really good. Around family and friends I am known as the clumsy game player. Yeah, I’m the one that gets constantly stuck against walls during first-person video games. But with the Beam interface I was able to easily navigate around the floor. I didn’t hit any wall, and that is good news.

I asked Dan how it was received around the office. He mentioned mixed opinions, which is completely understandable. All these new technologies are for sure changing social norms (see Google Glass). But as a technologist I just can’t help but feel excited.

What are your thoughts?


  1. How did it feel in terms of peripheral vision? Did you feel like you had a full range of vision or pretty only much could see straight in front of you/the screen?

  2. @Joyce it was actually pretty easy to drive. They have a fish-eye camera pointing down.

  3. That is really cool. I would be interested to see how these types of devices are used by customers: I can see uses for manufacturing and medicine, definitely, but I am sure there are many other use cases out there. I think also this falls under the category of “the creepiness factor” where I’d love to understand what specifically about it is disconcerting for users. The movement? The fact that it’s a camera? Would it make a huge difference if it was someone you knew on the monitor, vs a stranger? How is that different from seeing a coworkers vs a stranger, in flesh and blood? Very fun questions to ponder.

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