Beam telepresence robot
By: Ashley Goernitz
The Beam by Suitable Technologies allows people to remotely connect to the robot and maneuver it as if they were physically present in the room. Users interface with the robot through the proprietary app available for phones, tablets and computers. In doing so, users can actively participate in various activities.
Given the capabilities of Beam, it directly relates to the concept of Internet of Things (IoT). Generally speaking, Internet of things encompasses a variety of technology: smart lights, smart refrigerators, fitness trackers, home assistants, and the topic of this wiki, telepresence robots.The Internet of things is immensely useful for remote work and education as it allows people to communicate with each other using a device, an app and an internet connection regardless of their physical location.
More specific than IoT is the idea of telepresence. Telepresence “refers to a set of technologies which allow a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance of being present, or to have an effect” in the room where they are not present. The Beam allows a person to feel like they are physically present by providing video and audio input-output and the ability to control the location of the robot.
The Beam robot comprises a screen display attached to a set of wheels which is controlled through a mobile or desktop application. The app looks similar across all interfaces, but the way the user interacts with it slightly differs between the desktop application and the tablet/mobile application. Where the user interfaces with the desktop version using a keyboard and mouse, those on the mobile application will use their finger.
When the user first opens the application, they will be greeted by the login page.
Once logged in, the user should see a screen with a list of the available devices to connect to. From here, the user just needs to select “Beam In” on the desired device.
Once “beamed in,” the user will be presented with two displays. The first one shows the forward view or the view where people will be seen. The second one shows the floor view to make navigation easier.
The menu at the bottom of the top screen allows the user to adjust certains settings. For example, the user can change how loud the volume is. Additionally, the user can choose to share their screen, similar to sharing a screen in Zoom or other web conferencing applications.
Beam by Suitable Technologies has been acquired by GoBe Robots, another telepresence company. The change in ownership has not affected their support of previous products. For more information on GoBe Robots, explore these sites:
Examples in the labs
The Lab’s Beam has been used for remote check-ins. This means that team members who wanted to check out what was happening in the lab, but weren’t there physically could “Beam in” and check-in with the lab. The Labs’ Beam has been used for meetings as well as helping students get to class. One of our team members was on the West campus and needed to join a meeting on the Tempe campus so they “Beamed in” from the West campus.
Uses in education
Before Zoom was widespread, the Lab’s Beam was used to allow a student to remotely attend class by physically maneuvering the Beam from the lab to their classroom. Once in the classroom, they were able to see and hear everything that the students physically there could.
(n.d). Telepresence – Wikipedia. Retrieved 5 October 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telepresence
(n.d). Home – Beam. Retrieved 5 October 2021, from https://suitabletech.com/
(n.d). Group, B. GoBe Robots. Retrieved 5 October 2021, from https://gobe.blue-ocean-robotics.com/