One of the more popular items appearing at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival was the Beam, a 5’2″ videoconference robot that can be controlled remotely by a person anywhere in the world. It runs on battery power and has a docking station, and so long as there’s an Internet or mobile data connection, it can converse with people and walk alongside them. At SXSW, team member Susie Kim controlled the Beam from a computer in her California office, while fellow team member and Suitable Technologies CEO Scott Hassan attended the Austin event in person.
What’s the Big Idea?
Hassan says that the Beam saves costs while at the same time providing a physical presence. The company is working on a model with a high-definition camera to be used in medical environments, and if there’s demand, there might be a model made for consumers. For now, the Beam’s target audiences are multinational companies who want a better way to bring employees together beyond standard videoconference. However, it doesn’t come cheap: The price tag for one Beam is $16,000, not including service and support.