The Age of Telepresence Robots

double-robotics-telepresence-robotOne of the best ways to communicate with remote coworkers is through video conferencing. Face-to-face interactions are proven to be more effective than just chatting over the phone. Also, today’s video conferencing solutions are usually bundled with content sharing and other collaboration technologies.

A trend in video conferencing has been to design the systems to be more user friendly, interoperable with more devices like smartphones and tablets, and to generally make the experience and technology more standards-based than proprietary.

Telepresence robots are ushering in a new age of remote collaboration. Rather than scheduling a conference, some robots allow remote users to log in whenever they want. Once logged in, the user can drive the robot around the office and visit coworkers on the spot.

The robots are designed with a display and audio equipment to perform the same basic functions as a video conferencing system. The major difference is the freedom that the robots give remote users, letting them feel like they’re a part of the remote office rather than separated by distance.

Robots are on the rise! It might sound like a funny idea to see a robot roaming your office, but it’s a revolution that’s on the horizon.

Robots can benefit education too. A guest can visit the classroom from anywhere around the world and interact with individual students. Through a video conferencing system at the front of the room, the guest can only see and interact with what’s provided. Through a robot, the guest can take an active role in the learning experience.

The robot pictured on the left is the Double Robotics Telepresence Robot. It has two self-balancing wheels and uses a compatible iPad. It takes minutes to set up and configure. Robots like this are popular in business, education and more. They’ve even been used on stages to interact with huge audiences at conventions.

TriTech can help you decide if a telepresence solution like video conferencing systems or robots are right for your office, classroom or other location. Contact us today!

Windows 10, Project Spartan, Cortana and Universal Apps

windows-10Later this year, Microsoft is promising the new Windows 10 operating system. A week ago, they released Windows 10 Technical Review. This review version is a clean look at a work-in-progress, showcasing the general look and feel of the operating system so people can give positive and negative feedback to Microsoft.

If you want an in-depth review of Windows 10, there are a lot of articles posted on popular tech sites that detail the writers’ experiences with the operating system. In this blog, we’ll just give you the highlights.

Everyone liked Windows XP, but few liked Windows Vista. Windows 7 fixed the problems that people had with Vista, and then Microsoft tried rewriting the script with Windows 8 and there were few fans of that. Yes, no, yes, no… so if history’s pattern holds true, then Windows 10 should be a success.

Windows 10 appears to remove some of the features that were unpopular in Windows 8, while adding classic features that everyone missed. Navigation is smoother and the experience is more intuitive to someone’s expectations, rather than forcing people to remember too much or search incessantly. The experience is unfinished in the Technical Review, but clearly much better.

Microsoft also adds Project Spartan, Cortana and Universal Apps.

Project Spartan

The news and rumors about Project Spartan (which was missing in the Windows 10 Technical Review) is that it is a companion or secondary browser to Internet Explorer. It is not a replacement to IE, but a new way to explore the web.

Hinted at features include the ability to read web pages offline. The browser (assuming it’s a browser) can let people mark up web pages and share them with others, which is an incredibly content sharing tool if it is true.

Project Spartan will also work with Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant.

Cortana

Users of the Windows Phone operating system will be familiar with Cortana already. She’s Microsoft’s answer to Siri, based on the “Cortana” character from the Xbox’s popular “Halo” franchise.

Ask her a question and she’ll either open a web browser to start an Internet search, or browse through your computer’s files for you. Either type a question or vocalize your answer through the microphone.

With Project Spartan, she’ll be able to give you helpful hints and tips. Project Spartan could be a tip of the hat to the Halo series again, where the main character is a “Spartan” who frequently enlists the help of an artificial intelligence named Cortana.

Universal Apps

Video conferencing, VoIP and business-centric technologies are increasingly combining consumer hardware and other devices into the fold. It’s not a surprise that Microsoft wants its flagship operating system to become more of a universal experience too.

Let’s say you’ve been working all day in an Excel spreadsheet, but now you have to leave the office. With Universal Apps, Microsoft is saying that you can save you work to the OneDrive cloud storage service and access it from another PC, smartphone or tablet to continue your work. The idea (presumably) is to apply the Universal Apps model to any application on the PC.

Windows 10

Are we excited for Windows 10? Of course! It sounds incredibly promising and could be what consumers have been waiting for. Microsoft has businesses, gamers and everyone else in mind with Windows 10. It should keep or enhance everything that the professional wants in an operating system, while giving Microsoft’s Xbox network a new friend.

Here are some helpful articles for exploring Windows 10 further:

Computerworld – Windows 10 deep-dive review: Finally a unified operating system

Forbes – Is Windows 10 Microsoft’s Consumer Comeback OS?

ZDNet – Some first impressions of Windows 10

TechRadar – Windows 10: release date, price, news and features

For more information about Microsoft Windows operating systems and how to ready your office for the future, contact TriTech. We’ll make sure your business is keeping up with the latest technology trends and maximizing your current investments.