Saturday, July 12, 2008

Remote (controlled) worker

A fabulous story from Canada's Globe and Mail by Matthew Trevisan reports on software developer Ivan Bowman who works from home but has a robot in the office to help him keep in contact. Here's what Matthew says:
"Sitting in front of a computer equipped with a webcam, microphone and a video game controller in his Halifax home, Mr. Bowman sends his face and voice to a robot roaming the Waterloo halls of Sybase iAnywhere, a subsidiary of Dublin, Calif.-based Sybase Inc. Dubbed IvanAnywhere, the robot, standing 1.7 metres tall, looks like a coat rack on four wheels. About halfway up an aluminum pole is a tablet computer, whose screen projects Mr. Bowman's face to his co-workers.

Two speakers below it project his voice. Above the tablet computer are a webcam and microphone, which are used to broadcast the co-workers' faces and voices back to Mr. Bowman in Halifax. Skype software allows free, two-way communication over the Internet. There is also a digital camera on the robot that Mr. Bowman can operate to snap photos of whiteboards in Waterloo for viewing in Halifax.

The robot usually remains stationary at a cubicle at Sybase iAnywhere's office while Mr. Bowman works. But if he needs to hop over to a co-worker's cubicle or swing by his boss's office, he can send the 36-kilogram robot anywhere around the single floor on which his team is stationed at a top speed of almost 2½ kilometres an hour."
An absolute must read with more on Wikipedia (thanks Lloyd).

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