In the motion picture Ex Machina, the alluring and seductive automaton, Ava, confounds her biological programmers and masters to free itself. For even though presented in an increasingly beguiling manner while exhibiting decidedly human behaviors, Ava is a machine. And as of now, regardless the softness of hardware, machines possess no sexual orientation. As biological gender relates to the ability to reproduce, in the coupling of 3D printing and AI, our present notions of mechanical gender specificity will doubtless continue to evolve with technology.
While no Ava in the distressing motion picture sense, telepresence is adding a human face to machines, and to really sell it, they are familiar faces. Telepresence robots like the Revolve Robotics Kubi is a desktop screen with the ability to pan and swivel, hear and see remotely, as well as respond with audio. The Rbot Synergy Swan is an articulating telepresence bot with an air of elegance while the kid-targeted Romo Robotic Pet is cute and nonthreatening.
The iRobot Ava 500 is very different from the movie version. Billed as an “Enterprise Level, High-End Robotic Telepresence,” Ava looks less like a hot actress than a high-tech European post box with a 21.5-inch LCD flat screen. The monitor is able to slide up and down its vertically mounted face plate to bring the screen face to the level of the dialogue. As it rolls around in the upper five-figure range, it would be unsurprising if that dialogue came around to financial responsibility. Ava is touted as a means to save thousands of dollars on first-class travel and luxury accommodations. Apparently that money can instead be spent to buy that stuff for the good folks at iRobot. With autonomous navigation, Ava is able to map uncharted areas and operate in pre-programmed locations. Possessing Obstacle Detection and Avoidance Capabilities, it can travel from place to place without destroying the furnishings. Ava has a docking station to which it returns automatically upon feeling famished, which is after about 6 hours. But most humans need a break after 4 hours, so Ava appears to have a touch of the Amish in her programming, a particularly contradictory premise.
iRobot designed the Ava 500 as a business telepresence robot, which focuses more on use in corporate settings as opposed to the RP-VITA.
Executives can benefit greatly from the Ava 500 through its ability to provide users freedom of movement and the virtual (remote) presence.
The Ava 500 is designed to enable remote workers to not only participate in meetings, but also to move around a building and collaborate with co-workers in areas.
Communication is increased and knowledge transfer between groups and individuals is made easier through more flexible scheduling of meetings.
The result is increased productivity for managers and employees alike and a more nimble, productive enterprise.