The telepresence robot market is heating up. And it’s no surprise considering the changing nature of work and our increasingly global, connected lifestyles. Why limit yourself to interacting and communicating with those around you when you can use telepresence to place yourself in a remote location instantly? If you’re in the market for a telepresence robot, then you’ll want to brush up on the industry leaders and learn how they compare. Below is a quick overview of the Ohmni telepresence robot along with three of our competitors. Learn what to telepresence robot features to consider before choosing one and how Ohmni’s features stand out above the rest.
Founded in 2015 and based in Silicon Valley, CA, OhmniLabs is re-imagining personal robotics. Co-founders Jared Go, Tingxi Tan, and serial entrepreneur Thuc Vu, are robotics experts from Carnegie Mellon and Stanford who believe that personal consumer robots can make a positive impact on people’s everyday lives.
OhmniLabs’ products address unfulfilled market requirements necessary for widespread adoption of telepresence robotics solutions. While OhmniLabs and its three main competitors serve the primary market, OhmniLabs is the first company to deliver a product suitable for home use. Many of the telepresence robot features in the home-use market are key to growth in other non-consumer markets.
Why the Market Chooses
Ohmni® Telepresence Robot
Ohmni was designed as a low-cost solution. While robotic telepresence has many uses, it is not yet a widespread, indispensable solution. The price is highly variable and the existing competitors have not been able to deliver a solution that is affordable enough to generate large sale volumes. Priced at $2,699, Ohmni is positioned to become the volume leader.
Use of 3D-printing technology enables local manufacturing, which helps reduce the high cost of shipping a large product. Along with a lean manufacturing process, 3D-printing also gives Ohmni a competitive advantage when it comes to speed and constant improvement over traditional injection molding techniques.
Tilting Screen and Camera
Ohmni allows a complete floor-to-ceiling view. Users can look up at a poster on a wall, down at a project on a desk, or be face-to-face with someone sitting in a chair or standing at a wedding reception. The competitors’ products rely on backing up or driving forward to bring objects into view. With the integration of MotionMap technology, the user can control the robot’s neck and body with a mouse or touchpad; users can look around and emote naturally.
Lightweight and Portable
Although all of the telepresence robots mentioned in this article can be driven remotely, other people often need to pick up the robot to carry it out to a car or upstairs. Beam products weigh 39 lbs, whereas Ohmni weighs only 18 lbs. Ohmni can be transported to events and in and out of homes, schools, and offices with ease. Ohmni’s folding capabilities allow it to be easily carried, put into a car, etc. Beam’s weight makes transportation more of a challenge. Double and VGo, although similar to Ohmni in terms of weight, don’t fold.
WebRTC is the new standard that delivers the highest level of performance and lowest impact on the remote user. WebRTC uses a browser rather than an app download, enabling improved performance and rapid deployment of new capabilities. In the short term, a user is limited to a Chrome or Firefox browser, as Apple does not yet support webRTC in iOS (iPad and iPhone).
Custom Height and Color
People love choices. No other vendor offers a choice of both height and color. Choose the robot that best fits your style with materials such as finished bamboo and stainless steel. Ohmni is built to order in the US using OhmniLabs’ scalable additive manufacturing (3D-printing) process.
USB and Bluetooth Device Connectivity
Device connectivity enables applications where additional capabilities are required. Auxiliary cameras for inspections, measurements, and advanced network connectivity are just a few examples.
Ohmni doesn’t require additional software or hardware such as apps, cables, or USB keyboards for setup. Pre-configured with Wi-Fi, all the user has to do is unbox, unfold, and connect Ohmni to get started. In contrast, Double requires an iPad as well as accessory kits for the camera and mic. In addition, Double software has to be installed on the iPad. At 40 lbs, Beam is more of a challenge to unbox. Beam users also need to plug in a USB keyboard to set up WiFi since the robot has no touchscreen. Before making the first call, users must create an account and download and install software.
OhmniLabs’ global cloud backend makes calling easy for techies and non-techies alike; no account creation is required and there is no software to install. The cloud backend integrates with Google and Facebook authentication, making it easy to share the bot with friends and family. Users can call in with just two clicks from any Mac/PC/Android device using a web browser.
Glide Drive Technology
Whisper-silent motors provide ultra-smooth motion on any surface.
A common problem with telepresence robots is the lack of clarity when viewing fine details. Users struggle to read whiteboards and printed materials, for example. Ohmni’s Supercam includes an ultra-high resolution 4K camera and enhanced decode software with the ability to capture 13MP snapshots (4208×3120) anytime during a call. Users simply click the snapshot button and a snapshot is taken, instantly streamed from Ohmni, and saved to the user’s computer.
Image transmission is encrypted end-to-end between Ohmni and the user’s device to maximize privacy. Enhanced auto exposure and color-balance algorithms provide maximum image quality in various lighting conditions and deeper, richer colors. Video streaming during the call remains at HD 1280×960 @ 30fps resolution, but snapshots at full resolution can be taken any time.
Browser and Open OS
With Android as the operating system, third parties can develop and deliver added value applications. Although Double uses iOS, the integrated iOS application is costly and time-consuming to develop. The browser included in the Ohmni robots offers expanded value, giving the buyer capabilities beyond telepresence. Think of how much more powerful your phone is with a browser than without.
OhmniLabs plans to offer full API/SDK capabilities in the Ohmni Developer Edition for companies, schools, universities, and hobbyists to add value beyond what they can provide through its own development organization. The robot is programmable using OhmniAPI, and includes vision and speech triggers. Ohmni also integrates with Amazon Alexa API and MS Cognitive Services.
Located in Burlingame, California, Double targets telecommuters at offices, schools, and events. Backed by the Y-Combinator startup accelerator in 2012, Double Robotics began shipping in May 2013. Founders include David Cann, a designer and iOS developer and Marc DeVidts, an electrical/embedded systems engineer.
Double is distributed worldwide and is available on Amazon and the Apple store. The buyer must supply the iPad used as the robot’s display. Performance issues with the iPad-embedded audio/video have prompted speaker and camera accessory additions.
The Double 2, promising improved speed and stability, was announced in 2016. Any Apple mobile device, Windows desktop, or Apple desktop can be used to operate the robot. With a $3,000 price point (excluding the iPad), Double has been the leader in terms of sales volume.
Founded in 2017 by Yossi Wolf, Temi has flagship locations in New York, Tel Aviv, Shenzhen, and Singapore. The robot retails for $2000 and targets homes, offices, and businesses as a personal assistance robot. Temi combines affordability, manageable weight, and an open-source Android platform for development options. Strong emphasis on marketing has helped Temi gain popularity. It is available for purchase on Amazon and allows single sign-on via Alexa.
Suitable Technologies (Bought by Blue Ocean Robotics)
Suitable Technologies is a spinoff of the robotic research company Willow Garage (inventors of ROS – Robotic Operating System). Willow Garage developed a prototype called Texai to allow developers who couldn’t be physically present with the team to have a remote presence.
This prototype was featured on “The Big Bang Theory” (the Shelbot). For many people in the US, this was their introduction to the capabilities of telepresence technology. While much of what was depicted in the show wasn’t real, many people weren’t aware the technology actually existed and was being utilized.
Suitable Technologies is funded exclusively by CEO Scott Hassan. Scott was the founder of eGroups (now Yahoo! Groups) and the key software architect and developer of Google, Alexa Internet, and the Stanford Digital Library. When the $2,000 Beam+ was introduced in 2015, the original Beam ($15,000) was rebranded as “Beam Pro.”
In 2017, the Beam+ was renamed simply “Beam,” and a new model, Beam Enhanced ($5,000), was introduced to overcome severe limitations that made Beam+ a market failure.
The Beam Pro has not sold well due to high cost and soft ROI for telecommuters. Nevertheless, Suitable continues to promote the Beam Pro over their more affordable models. The Beam Pro is targeted at Fortune 500 companies. Lower-cost Beam models are targeted at businesses, schools, and to some degree, homes.
Introduced in 2011 and costing $7,000, VGo was one of the first affordable robots. It was venture-capital funded and founded by former execs from the videoconferencing industry, along with one of iRobot’s original founders. With a tilting camera and manageable weight, VGo provided a solution for homebound students, but the cost was a barrier for many. The company was sold to Vecna Technologies in 2015. Vecna has failed to invest in product development to correct significant shortcomings like small screen size and lack of auxiliary navigation camera. As a result, demand for the product has virtually stopped.
Although the telepresence robot market offers a number of options, it’s hard to beat the telepresence robot features of Ohmni Supercam. A 13MP camera plus the Ohmni low-latency encoding system gives you an immersive, ultra-wide field of view without sacrificing visual detail.
Ready to experience the full range of telepresence robot features on the Ohmni Supercam Telepresence Robot? Click here to visit the Ohmni Store to order your robot today.
To learn more about telepresence robot features, including the best affordable telepresence robots, click here.
Ohmni® is a registered trademark of OhmniLabs, Inc.