Every company I’ve worked at has had a global presence, and I have had the opportunity to interact with colleagues from all over the world, mostly in the form of e-mail and phone communications. Every so often, one of them would visit the United States for business, and I would have a chance to meet them in person. Such face-to-face opportunities help foster healthy working relationships and cultural understanding. However, most companies’ budgets are tight, and international travel is expensive. Details are lost in e-mails due to language barriers, and conference calls are very difficult to arrange due to time zone differences. Video conferencing is an alternative, but quality of video and audio service can be questionable.
Is there another solution? Yes. Telepresence.
According to WhatIs.com, telepresence is “… a sophisticated form of robotic remote control in which a human operator has a sense of being on location so that the experience resembles virtual reality (VR). The remotely-controlled robot (or telechir) and the human operator can be located at a great distance from each other. Control and feedback are done by telemetry over wires, optical fibers, wireless links or the Internet.”
Big companies must devote entire rooms of a considerable size to accommodate the technology needed plus a table and chairs for the attendees. To create a synonymous experience, those on the other side of the camera should have nearly the identical setup in order to create the feeling that everyone is in the same room sitting at the same table.
Creating this environment is not cheap. The equipment and networking alone could cost up to $340,000 and monthly fees up to $28,000 (Schwartz, “Can you afford telepresence systems?”).
There is a more cost-effective option that won’t break a company’s budget while trying to bring remote teams together. Meet KUBI.
By using a web-capable device such as a smartphone, iPad or tablet and an internet connection, KUBI, by revolveROBOTICS provides a clever and cost-effective way to give everyone a seat at the same table. KUBI gives the remote user full pan and tilt function to smoothly interact with those actually sitting at the table.
The best part? KUBI costs from $500 to $5000 (for networked applications).
How does this apply to Technical Communication? Easy! Imagine trying to negotiate the need to fly to Europe in order to attend a workshop hosted by a remote team. Don’t forget to include hotel, food, transportation, etc. And what if there are more than one of you that needs to go? Requests like this get rejected all the time because of the cost (it’s happened to me twice). An option like KUBI would allow me to participate remotely in that workshop or product demo that is hosted elsewhere. KUBI could also be used to facilitate content reviews with remote team members.
All that for a fraction of the cost of a telepresence room. Pull up a chair!