It’s not uncommon to hear of working parents who have to juggle between work, family and social life in today’s fast-paced society. I often hear friends lamenting that they wish they had more hours in a day, or that they could be in two places simultaneously. While none of those two options are possible, PadBot aims to help users to sort-of be in two places at one time via telepresence technology.

PadBot is a telepresence robot launched by Guangzhou-based Inbot Technology. Currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo, the campaign has raised $36,447 with 6 days to go, surpassing its initial $30,000 goal. The telepresence PadBot basically allows users to ‘walk’ and look around a place remotely, moves freely and can angle its head upward or downward for a better view.

With the PadBot, one is able to communicate with others remotely, with real-time actions and video or voice communications. Are you going to be overseas for work, hence missing your child’s birthday party? No problem. Simply use PadBot to activate the video or voice call function, and move the PadBot around the house as if you were there yourself. Bosses who are away from the office most of the time can also check that everyone is being productive with the PadBot, by controlling the robot to move around the office remotely. The campaign also suggests that the PadBot would also be good for lovers, perhaps those in a long-distance relationship, because you are “there with him/her, (and) playing around are (sic) more satisfying”. See a video of PadBot at work here.

The ‘brain’ of the PadBot is simply your tablet or smartphone device – devices are connected to the PadBot via Bluetooth 4.0 and connects to the Internet via 3G or WIFI. It moves around with a wheeled motion system, and comes with collision prevention and anti-falling sensors to ensure that the PadBot does not crash into impending objects or tumble down the stairs. To control the robot, users simply download the iOS or Android app that boasts a variety of functions, including remote control, real-time video chat and so forth.

The PadBot system consists of both hardware (PadBot) and software. PadBot has its own cloud servers, and media data is transferred by peer-to-peer connection once everything is set up.

While the PadBot aims to allow people to be in two places at once, it goes without saying that a telepresence robot can never compare with actual human interaction between loved ones. However, the PadBot does provide flexibility and is an excellent substitute for traditional monitoring devices, such as baby monitors or stationary video cameras.

Interested in getting a PadBot for yourself? The early-bird and accelerator pledges of $296 and $329 have already been snatched up, but you can still pledge $359 to get a PadBot and a PadBot cap and t-shirt here. Delivery is estimated to be in December 2014, in time for Christmas.

Zen is a tech journalist with a fondness for tech gadgets and pandas. She is also a full-time grad student studying business journalism at Tsinghua University, and often spends much time dreaming about...

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