Face-to face meetings are important. According to Harvard Business Review, they help management teams root out negligence, increase productivity, provide a positive competitiveness, and deepen relationships with colleagues.
So it’s not surprising that Americans took 427 million business trips last year. According to the Global Business Travel Assn., the bill for all this travelling to provide face-to-face contact between clients and companies was $228 billion.
Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Drake Bennet thinks there is a better, and cheaper, alternative to business travel: telepresence robots.
Bennet reports that the worldwide market for telepresence robotics is expected to grow from $556.1 million in 2010 to $13.1 billion in 2016. Robots that can be controlled from any location could be responsible for everything from office security and surveillance to holding remote meetings and virtual collaboration.
“On snow days we’ll have well over half the guys on VGos [robots],” says Tom Ryden, cofounder of robot-maker VGo Communications. “They’ll stop and chat with each other, robot to robot. You’ll be walking down the hall and see two guys just chatting away, and they’re both in some other location.'”
Only a few robot models are currently available — and they are already in high demand. VGo Communications quickly sold out its first production run of 100. Another company, Anybots, currently has an order backlog of a month and a half.
To find out more about telepresence technology, head over to Bloomberg Businessweek.
See the VGo robot in action here:
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