Revolve Robotics' KUBI spins your tablet around for teleconferences, we go hands-on

Revolve Robotics' KUBI spins your tablet around for teleconferences, we go handson

We've been covering telepresence robots for years, but those that have materialized aren't exactly within most people's budget. However, if all you need is some way to rotate your view on the other end of the line, then you may consider Revolve Robotics' KUBI. With six days left and just over $27,000 away from the $50,000 goal (the team was able to knock 50 percent off the original goal), this Indiegogo project hopes to offer a relatively affordable and simple telepresence solution for existing tablet users. The KUBI itself is essentially a tablet mount that can do a 300-degree pan plus 90-degree tilt, and the prototypes we saw featured two spring-loaded aluminium arms that elegantly pinches the tablet -- we've been told that they can even fit Microsoft's Surface in landscape. The robot is pretty much platform-agnostic as long as the tablet supports Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, which is how the robot receives its motion commands.

The demo we saw featured iPads that had a KUBI app running in the background to take care of the Bluetooth communication. Obviously it doesn't matter what teleconference app we use alongside, but we did use FaceTime between two iPads in the same hotel suite for the sake of convenience. To control the robot on the other end (to, say, look around a room, interact with a baby or stalk a subject), a secondary device is needed to access a web page with a matrix of buttons, which correspond to different coordinates within the robot's range of motion. As you'll see in the demo video below, it worked pretty well for us, and the company's already working with partners to have the controls and even motion tracking built into custom teleconference apps. The KUBI is expected to hit the market in the summer for around $249, but early birds can pre-order one for just $199 on Indiegogo and receive shipment as soon as end of April.