Tech Tuesday: Beam-ing to work


by TYLER SIESWERDA / KVUE News and photojournalist DOUG NAUGLE and video editor ROB DIAZ

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 23 at 11:58 PM

AUSTIN -- The sky is packed with business people heading to meetings, costing companies thousands of dollars a year. But what if you could just beam yourself there? 

That is the idea behind 'Beam' which is taking the webcam to a new level. The maker, Suitable Technologies, calls it a remote tele-presence device which allows users to be in two places at once.

"I know people like to call it a robot but technically it's not because I'm the one maneuvering it," said a Beam spokesperson who only introduced herself as Amy. 

Amy was speaking using Beam from the company headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

Beam is already being used in some major companies including Intel and Microsoft. Developers believe it will be especially useful in the medical and education fields. 

"We want to sort of mimic the human experience. Have it be as much real-time as possible," said Amy.

That means the Beam's two cameras see roughly what the human eye sees. It's connected via wireless Internet and 4G cell service. It can be maneuvered with a mouse, a joystick, a keyboard, or even an Xbox controller. And once you get the hang of it, Beam is easy to maneuver.

Beam costs $16,000 and can operate about eight hours on a single charge.

With the recent announcement that Google Fiber is headed to Austin, combined with a new teaching hospital and the booming tech scene, we could see a lot more people beaming into town.

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