The scenario has become all too familiar. You need to be somewhere but you’re restricted from appearing in person due to social distancing guidelines. You’re scheduled to travel internationally to attend a high-profile event or to deliver an important workshop but you’re unable to leave the country because of the pandemic. You can’t travel. You can’t be there as promised. But business is more competitive than ever. And your desire to collaborate and connect with your community is stronger than ever.
One solution innovative business leaders employ to get around these problems — telepresence robots. As the adoption of robotics accelerates, use cases have evolved from simply telecommuting into an office to telework — performing jobs in a non-office environment. Here are two examples of how users are leveraging the power of telepresence to make good on promises to appear halfway around the world when the pandemic and their personal schedules would have otherwise gotten in the way.
Reading the Room in Remote Workshops
Tony Wheeler, Founder & CEO of ImagineX Ventures, is a global entrepreneur. His firm provides services and programs that enable organizations to build collaborative ecosystems that support technical and social entrepreneurialism. To that end, he travels regularly from Brisbane, Australia to Vietnam and Singapore to create connections between industry, government, universities, and startups. It’s intense but rewarding work to facilitate cross-cultural training sessions that span multiple timezones.
With his calendar filled months ahead, Tony had to dramatically alter his schedule when the pandemic hit. No longer able to travel outside of Australia, Tony knew he had to find a solution that would allow him to deliver his content and get participants in the room to work through challenges together. Video conferencing wouldn’t cut it. Tony didn’t want to be limited to a fixed point of view from a laptop sitting on a desk at the front of the room.
He needed more insight and control as to what was happening in the room.
Realizing he wanted more than video conferencing offers, Tony recruited telepresence technology to help him deliver on his commitments. Using our telepresence robot, Tony facilitated a training session in Ho Chi Minh City from his home in Australia. Tony was able to address the group as a whole and then follow small group discussions during breakout sessions. With our robot, Tony was able to interact with individuals to learn how they were responding to workshop concepts.
The results were better than Tony expected.
“It worked great, and was quite a novelty in the room, and certainly made my job easier and more fun! The real advantage was the ability to move around the room at will and get close to the tables. I could rotate Ohmni, zoom in, and pick up on people’s facial expressions. I could see who was engaged, who was not, and who I needed to ask specific questions of.”
As the workshop leader, it was important for Tony to see who was engaged while he was speaking and when others were speaking as well. “Ohmni allowed me to see other people’s reactions. Are people in the room agreeing or disagreeing with this person? Do they have a representative voice? Or are they only projecting their own single perspective?” All of these feedback cues were incredibly important. “Being able to read the room definitely helped me determine what to say or who to call on next.”
“As a communication tool, Ohmni is incredibly valuable. It allows me to close feedback loops in remote conversations and gives me a lot more information. It definitely helps me make better decisions on the run.”
Before our Ohmni telepresence robot it would have been impossible for Tony to hear the conversations at each table. Or to react to subtle behavioral nuances in the room. Our robot’s mobility, camera and zoom functions all worked together to provide Tony with a broader perspective than simply using a laptop.
“Facilitating critical thinking and conversation relies on being able to see feedback cues. This is particularly important when working cross-culturally. If I can’t be there in person, Ohmni is the next best thing.”
Feeling the Excitement
Our CEO and Co-founder, Thuc Vu, recently experienced the magic of telepresence when he attended the Forbes Vietnam Tech Summit 2020 via our Ohmni telepresence robot. Even though he’s no stranger to the impact of this technology, he was blown away by the level of interaction and connection he felt using telepresence or video conferencing to deliver the keynote speech for the Summit.
The conference, entitled Making The Midas Touch, included speakers from leading technology companies in Vietnam and the world discussing how advanced technologies such as AI, 5G, Big Data, and IoT change lives, the way people interact and work in the present and the future.
The event opened with two of our robots — one driven by one of our team members on behalf of the MC and the other driven by Thuc. Through the robot, he shared his thoughts on Vietnam’s capability and edge in catching the development waves of AI and Big Data to over 600 attendees.
“It was fascinating to be able to attend the conference from such a distance. I was able to hear and see what was happening there. The MC was loud and clear. I got to see the crowd and feel the excitement from everyone there as well. It makes a big difference to just giving a speech over video conferencing since I could look around on my own and interact with the audience in a much more engaging way.”
As both Tony and Thuc demonstrate, the pandemic has impacted the world in profound ways that only technology can address. Without innovative solutions such as telepresence robotics, users would not have the same experience of “being there” even when physically unable or restricted from traveling. Given all of the audio and visual requirements, successfully leading a workshop with 30+ active participants or speaking in front of 600+ attendees through a robot is no small feat. But it is remarkable and eye-opening when it works.
Where would you like to be? Let us help you get there.
To learn more about Ohmni Robot telework, visit our store.