The Rise of the Machines
Robotics is a natural extension of unified communications. It marries mobility -- in the most literal sense -- with the ability to participate in events remotely. The technology now is front and center as the National Robotics Week accidentally coincided with the use of robots to survey the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Workplace robotics has a whimsical feel to it, but is a logical next step in unified communications. I posted on this a few months ago; one of the links was to a video from a company called VGO, which manages to simultaneously illustrate the potential benefits of robotics and seems like a satire.
This is serious business, however. Singularity Hub reported late last month that NEC is researching machine/human interaction. The devices they tested aren't for sale. The bottom line, however, is that robotics is coming:
NEC in Japan developed its Partner-type Personal Robot, or PaPeRo, as a communications platform for research into human-machine interactions. Now, they're testing the lovable bot as a teleconferencing tool. In a series of experiments in office-like settings, NEC found that users preferred the diminutive device to typical conference phones. Able to recognize faces, respond to touch and speech, swivel its head, and wheel around, PaPeRo could make a very cool table-top telerobot.