Telexistence Robot Is The Future Of Shopping You've Seen In Movies
Telexistence Inc is a Tokyo-based robotic startup that I stumbled upon that made me think about the future of retail. Telexistence unveiled its first mass production prototype for Model H. The premise is simple, the drone is dormant until a user logs on with a VR headset and starts moving it around. While the kit in the video is bulky (and I am not sure why that is the case) in the future it’s likely to be as simple as logging into a social network. In a way, this is the future that Mark Zuckerburg wants and one I can see happen en mass if drones start to really take off.
Per the Telexistence website; “Telexistence® is a concept of using a remote robot as his or her extended being, to release humans from space-time constraints.” The ideas was first proposed by Dr. Susumu Tachi, Professor Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo in 1980. It is an evolutionary form of a master-slave robot system where the operator receives sensor information from the remotely located robot and controls the robot to conduct remote tasks. When I saw the video, I thought of ‘I,Robot‘ – the Will Smith movie mixed with ‘Surrogates’ (Bruce Willis). While Telexistence is more about going to places you can’t, the idea of an ‘extended being’ and ‘master-slave robot system’ just sounds way cool and will capture the imagination of brands and business around the world.
The system looks pretty simple (but obviously isn’t) and while it does feature elements like infrared 3D location measurement, VR and haptic devices the system isn’t made for out of home or office use (in case you were wondering). The robot is also battery powered although no specifics are given on the website so it – like VR – may not be for long periods of usage.
Apart from the obvious uses for people of reduced mobility, this system could also help the lazy or those that are annoyed by endless browsing…quite a large percentage of online shoppers. The Telexistence system also potentially limits returns if the system knows what will fit you, and what will not, based on measurements that a user could give it. When a 1/3 of shopping is returned, minimising this is a change worth making for many.
Best of all, the system could extend opening hours, essentially making a closed store operate 24-7 (even though the video does show a human shopworker). Equally, the “store” could be faked and simply an extension of the e-commerce functionality and the shipment could be sent from any warehouse or even couriered to the buyer. It’s all up for grabs at this stage as people fight for the last mile and how to beat Amazon.
Telexistence might just have given retailers looking to get an edge on Amazon a chance to move their business sideways before they are overtaken or replaced. Start testing it now, the price of VR is dropping and consumers like to shop – Telexistence might just be the tool retailers have been looking for that’s easy to implement.