By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated March 17, 2014.
The Ava 500 video collaboration robot has arrived. iRobot Corp, known for its robotic technology-based solutions, is making its latest innovation available in the U.S., Canada and a few European markets via certified Cisco resellers.
Ava 500 is promising to take enterprise telepresence to the next level. The company used words like “better than being there” telepresence benefits for remote users combined with a physical presence through freedom of movement. The robot is self-driven and lets you use video to see and be seen during collaborative meetings.
iRobot inked a joint marketing agreement and alliance with Cisco last June. Since then, the company has wrapped up a beta program and field trials at Fortune 500 company sites. The end result, according to iRobot, is visible: globally dispersed teams can collaborate without traveling.
True Remote Collaboration
“For truly amazing things to happen, video needs to be available everywhere -- on every pane of glass, in every meeting space, and in all the spaces in between,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group. “The combination of Cisco TelePresence, Cisco wireless networking and iRobot autonomous mobility will help customers collaborate in new ways. This solution demonstrates a level of innovation that we believe is going to be critical to the next wave of growth in the collaboration industry.”
Tall words, indeed. But the Ava 500 is breaking ground with its hardware and software solution that brings together iRobot’s autonomous mobile robotics platform with Cisco’s telepresence solutions. Consider the fact that Ava 500 makes it possible for a telecommuter to perform work just as if he was sitting in a traditional office with the rest of the team. The idea is to create a conversational workplace, even when the workers are all over the world. Bayer AG, for one, is bullish on the platform.
Michael Graefenstedt, vice president BU Polyurethanes and Head of Commercial Business Development EMEA/LA at Bayer, said technologies like Ava 500 offer several advantages to large companies with facilities around the globe. Cost savings and productivity are just a couple of them.
“From my office in Germany, I was able to use Ava 500 to manage and collaborate with U.S. colleagues in a way that would have necessitated expensive travel otherwise,” Graefenstedt said. “Having experienced a physical presence in the meeting and the advantage of ‘walking around’ with colleagues at their offices, I believe this technology holds great promise for how business will be conducted on a global scale moving forward.”
Broad Industry Application
iRobot is convinced its solution has broad application across industries, including manufacturing, data centers, laboratories and clean rooms, call centers, and corporate training rooms.
For example, using Ava 500 in a manufacturing setting, a remote user could walk to different parts of the floor just as if he was physically there. A remote plant manager could see any problems, offer solutions and avoid issues. On the data center front, a remote technician could move around the site to perform inspections. If he finds a problem, he could give access to a manager without stepping foot onsite.
Ava 500 could also find a home in call centers, making it possible to generate more personal connections between trainers and call center employees. Remote trainers could lead corporate workshops without traveling to headquarters, leaving more room in the corporation’s training budget for future sessions.