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Shopping via telepresence makes for good PR; how long before it’s mainstream?

September 29, 2015
Using a BeamPro, Brianna Lempesis waits in line to buy an iPhone6s from the Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto. Photo: Suitable Technologies.
Using a BeamPro, Brianna Lempesis waits in line to buy an iPhone6s from the Apple Store in downtown Palo Alto. Photo: Suitable Technologies.

Robots are great for doing dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs, and few jobs are more dangerous and downright dull (at times) than waiting in line to buy the latest tech gadget. Last week in Palo Alto, California, and in Sydney, Australia, telepresence devices stood in for their human counterparts to buy the iPhone 6S. 

Both transactions took place without the humans ever getting in line. Brianna Lempesis, who works for Suitable, hopped in line in Palo Alto the morning the iPhone went on sale there. Lucy Kelly, who works at a marketing firm in Sydney and normally uses a Double for work, was able to hop in line the day before. Kelly on her Double in Sydney and Lempesis on her Beam Pro in Palo Alto were both able to operate their telepresence devices and complete the entire transaction in the comfort of their homes, while multiplexing themselves at their respective offices.

“This the most fun I’ve ever had waiting in a line,” said Lempesis. Though each event was seen as a publicity stunt, I expect this to happen more often as busy people with the financial means wake up to the idea that they can physically be in more than one place at a time.

I’m currently hatching a plan to use this idea for Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens tickets, though I think Sphero’s BB8 might be more appropriate.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be covering  the current state of telepresence to give you an idea of just how prevalent it is, and why this isn’t going away. Watch for more soon.

Michael Savoie Michael is the founder and Chief Robot Wizard at Frostbyte Technologies, a start-up aimed at developing autonomous outdoor mobile robots... read more


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