Today's exciting modern technology comes with plenty of old-fashioned hand-wringing. Kids don't play outside anymore! Texting has replaced talking! You can't sit through a civilized dinner without somebody spending the evening with his face buried in his iPhone!
If you're a Luddite who hates these modern trends, get ready for your next space-age nightmare. If, on the other hand, you accept these situations as side-effects of a world evolving for the better, get ready to totally geek out.
Tech company Double Robotics -- with its spokesperson, Coral Gables native actress Romina -- has created a robotic iPad extension that lets you virtually transport yourself to far-away locations via your touchscreen.
The company's latest product, Double, is a "telepresence" robot that allows you to be in two places at once -- virtually, anyway. Much more than a webcam, Double is fully mobile. Hook it up to a second or third generation iPad, and the machine makes its way around any space. So you can attend meetings virtually, tour facilities, even chit chat around the water cooler -- all while never having to leave the comfort of your own home.
This high-tech tool for busy businesspeople and social anxiety victims alike is being touted by a "Hollywood liason" who hails from the 305. Coral Gables' own Romina, an actress, author, singer, and self-professed nerd, left South Florida for L.A. to pursue her career at the age of 18. Her most recent project is promoting Double to the world.
Romina's talents aren't limited to entertainment. She partnered with designer and iOS developer David Cann and electrical/embedded systems engineer Marc DeVidts to create a company called Taptic Toys after she imagined a product called Xachi Pet, a fuzzy little robotic pet wirelessly controlled via iPhone or iPad. As the group worked with production facilities in China, Cann had an epiphany: What if he had an affordable remote communication device so he could virtually be on-site at the factory? And Double was born.
David serves as CEO of Double Robotics, and Marc as co-founder and lead engineer. (Xachi Pet is on the backburner as this product takes off, but they hope to revisit it in the future).
The duo is making waves with its latest invention, getting enough pre-orders to keep them busy for months.
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"I love it, it's so much fun to use," Romina says. "It's so simple and it's really non-intrusive, so you're able to keep tabs on what's going on in two places at once."
Double offers touch screen driving controls and a dynamic balancing algorithm to keep it on its "feet." Its height is motorized via remote control, so you can adjust based on who you're talking to or what you're looking at, and it features two kickstands for saving power while it's not driving.
Double's pre-order price is $1,999; it'll go up to $2,499 after the product's official launch.The first Doubles will reportedly be delivered in December; orders placed now will go out in early 2013. Orders must be placed directly through Double Robotics - no word on when/if the product will hit store shelves. Visit www.doublerobotics.com.