Double Robotics is a manufacturer of telepresence robots. These robots allow employees who are working outside the office to join meetings, interact with their co-workers, and have a physical presence. It can also help doctors do their rounds, or teachers teach a class even when they are not physically in the hospital or classroom.
Rather than just being patched in via conference call, you can move around the boardroom and even see what is going on as if you are really there.
The Double 2 Telepresence Robot has a price tag starting at a hefty price, but it has several features that you would love. For example, you can easily drive the telepresence robot because it is very stable and can go over common obstacles that you find in the office, such as uneven floors, cables, and wires. You can go from one room to another without the robot toppling over.
Furthermore, you can move around with speeds of up to 1.8 miles per hour. You can also adjust the height of the screen, ranging from 47 inches to 59 inches. On a full charge, the robot can work for up to 10 hours.
It also works with a camera kit and an audio kit that extends the audio quality and video quality that you get from your mobile tablet. With a camera kit, for instance, you have 720 pixels high definition videos, while the audio kit delivers crisp and clear audio.
Needless to say, the Double 2 is more than just a mobile tablet on a remote-controlled stick.
The Double 2, however, is not the only option out there. Here are the alternatives you should consider.
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VGo Communications VGo
The VGo Communications VGo does not require you to use your mobile tablet. It comes with its own six-inch display, camera, and microphones. It can go over rugs and uneven floors with ease, allowing it to go just about everywhere you want it to. You can tilt the head, and if the robot is within 10 meters of the charging dock, it will dock itself automatically, saving you the trouble of having to navigate the robot back to its base.
More than just allowing you to attend meetings even when you are outside the office, the VGo also has a lot of additional features that make using it a lot more convenient. For instance, there are LED lights on top of the camera so you can see where you are going even in dark hallways. You can also buy an optional extension if you find the VGo’s four-foot height a bit too low when interacting with people.
What could be better
Owning a VGo can prove to be very expensive. VGo sells higher for commercial establishments, but educational institutions can get it for less.
On top of that, you would need to pay for the subscription, which could set you back around $100 a month.
Suitable Technologies Beam
If you do not like how the Double 2 uses a mobile tablet for its screen, you can check out Suitable Technologies’ Beam telepresence robot. Beam has a 10-inch display that gives you crisp and clear videos. It also has two HDR cameras and speakers on board, as well as four microphones. If Double 2 comes with the optional camera kit and audio kit, Beam has all of these – screen, audio kit and camera kit – in one neat package.
At its price, it is much cheaper than the Double D. It also has a very low center of gravity that makes it very stable.
What could be better
Beam’s screen is fixed at 53 inches. This means that you would need to stare down at whoever is using it when you are standing up. You would not, however, have any problems when you are seated.
Battery run times is limited to two hours. If you need more than that, then you should consider buying the Beam Enhanced.
The biggest drawback to the Beam telepresence robot is that you have to pay $79 a year to keep on using it after three years. You cannot use the robot if you do not pay the $79. The good news is that the robot’s purchase price already covers the subscription fees for the first three years.
Ohmni joins this list because it breaks a lot of stereotypes when it comes to telepresence robots. For one, it is more affordable. Like the Beam and the VGo robots, Ohmni has an included screen, microphones, and a speaker. The screen is quite big at 10.8 inches. Video resolutions are high definition at 1080 pixels.
Ohmni has good quality speakers and microphone, allowing you to hear and be heard with absolutely no problem. It is also very easy to drive with two HD cameras showing you where you are going and letting you avoid blocks and obstacles. Viewing angles may be changed, just by pointing your mouse to where you want it to focus. It has a height of 48 inches, but you can extend it to 56 inches.
Another area where Ohmni differs is that it comes in three colors: red, white and black.
What could be better
The Ohmni telepresence robot does not have a crash avoidance system to keep it safe from a collision.
The best telepresence robots compared
Telepresence robots are, by their very nature, rather limited. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing. These robots’ main purpose is to act as a substitute for human presence, which is a very big shoe to fill.
These robots are inherently flawed. They cannot move around on their own, and even robots with autonomous navigation cannot climb flights of stairs. Nevertheless, these can serve as your eyes and ears when you are not around. They also allow you to make more personal interactions with colleagues, friends and family members even if you are not physically there.
Double Robotics Double 2, VGo Communications VGo, Suitable Technologies Beam, and the Ohmni are your best bets right now.
Side-by-side comparison: Double 2 vs. Beam vs. VGo vs. Ohmni
|Price||(Check out the latest prices here!)||(Check out the latest prices here!)||(Check out the latest prices here!)||–|
|Maximum speeds||1.8 mph||1.0 mph||2.0 mph||3.0 mph|
|Uses your tablet||Yes||No||No||No|
|Camera kit available||Yes||No||No||No|
|Has SDK for custom apps||Yes||No||No||No|
|Height (inches)||47.0 – 59.0||52.9||48||52|
|Charging time (hours)||3 to 4||8||8||5|
|Running time (hours)||10||2||6||5|
The Double 2 keeps things simple. It makes use of a mobile device that you already are familiar with. However, even the best mobile tablets can suck when it comes to sound and video quality, especially if the room is noisy. Double 2 remedies that by offering the camera kit and the audio kit. The adjustable height and the long battery running time also make it a good choice. Additionally, it is one of the very few telepresence robots that offer their own software development kit, allowing you to customize its functions. At its price plus the cost of the tablet you are going to use, the Double 2 might seem a little steep.
Both the VGo and Beam have their own displays, speakers, and microphones. Both are very flexible and stable, and you can easily drive them around. However, the VGo and Beam suffer from stiff necks: there is no way for you to adjust the height of the screen on the fly. They also take longer to recharge, which is more than twice the time you need to charge a Double 2.
Price-wise, the VGo is very expensive. And, while the Beam is more affordable than Double 2, it has a very short running time at only two hours. Additionally, you might get turned off by the recurring fees you have to pay for these two, which would make cost of ownership even higher in the long run.
Telepresence robots have earned the reputation of being aesthetically boring and ridiculously prohibitive and costly. The Ohmni telepresence robot, however, has somewhat countered this. With its price tag, you get great video and sound quality, a big display, and respectable battery life at 5 hours.
Final recommendations and the runners up
It would seem that the best telepresence robot right now is the Ohmni. It combines some nifty features and functionalities, while also keeping the price down.
If you are, however, more budget-conscious, then you should check out the two telepresence robots that almost made this list: the Kubi and the Autonomous Clone.
The Padbot U1 version 2 works like the Double 2 in that you would need to supply your own tablet. But it does have a wide-angle lens, auto answer, and an external speaker. The manufacturer is also promising auto docking features in the near future. The good news is that it costs less, giving you a more affordable alternative to all these costly robots.
You could also check out Kubi, which you can buy for a really good price. Kubi does not travel around the office, though. The stationary robot stays on the desktop, but it can pan and tilt its head, allowing it to be a lively participant to any meeting. Kubi also needs you to provide your own tablet.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!