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Limarc is a Tokyo-based writer of all things pop culture, travel, and tech.

Telepresence Robots Are the Future of Remote Work – An Interview With Double Robotics

Founded in 2011, Double Robotics is the world’s leading provider of telepresence robots. Their first product line is called Double, with the third model, the Double 3, shipping in late September of 2019. Their robots use mixed reality and computer vision to navigate in the real world, avoiding obstacles in their path. Their telepresence robots have been featured in numerous television programs and have received great feedback from big-name customers like MIT Sloan and LinkedIn. 
LinkedIn + Double Robotics
In our interview, the founders of Double Robotics, David Cann and Marc DeVidts, talk about their inspirations behind Double. We discuss the hardware and software specifications and how Double telepresence robots could change the world. 
Marc DeVidts (left) and David Cann (right)
Limarc: For our readers that aren’t familiar with Double Robotics, could you briefly explain your product, Double 3, and its use cases?
Marc: Double 3 is a two-wheeled, self-balancing robot that has a screen, cameras, microphones, and a speaker. The goal of the Double 3 is to help telecommuters and distance learners be closer to their teams and classrooms. Many of our customers are employees who work with a team but live somewhere else, or K-12 students who are homebound due to illness, but can still benefit from the social interaction in a classroom setting. Site managers can visit multiple locations in a matter of minutes without traveling. Doctors can quickly visit their patients across multiple hospitals to provide better care and follow-up. We have even seen couples who let distant family members attend their wedding via Double!
L: How do people pilot or control the Double 3? Could you briefly go over some of the hardware and software specifications?
Marc: Double 3’s new Click-to-Drive interface lets the driver simply click anywhere on the floor and the robot will drive there, avoiding obstacles along the way.  The robot senses its environment and presents a mixed-reality video stream to the driver, with 3D virtual objects placed into the live video stream as if they are in the environment, to indicate drivable areas and points of interest, such as the charging dock.
L: What was your inspiration for the product and for starting Double Robotics?
David: For a few years before starting Double, I worked remotely as an iOS app developer for various clients. I was always searching for ways to better connect with my team, but all of the other solutions out there were either super expensive or clunky. When the iPad 2 was released with a front-facing camera, Marc and I realized our combined software and hardware experience could enable us to make a simple, elegant robot that leveraged the iPad for video. Since then, we’ve shipped over 11,000 units, and we’ve built a following of extremely passionate customers.  Double 3 is our first new hardware release since 2016, and we’ve moved away from the iPad to custom hardware that provides a much better user experience and extensibility for the future.
L: From an investor’s point of view, why should people be excited about the Double 3? Are there any gaps in the market that your product fills? 
David: We have thousands of passionate customers who have provided extensive feedback on the last two iterations of Double. Double 3 is based on all of that feedback, creating an awesome user experience that makes telepresence accessible to many more people. Remote work is becoming commonplace, both in who it’s available to and how often they’re able to work remotely. 
“The future of work is remote, and the Double 3 is the best way to work remotely.”
L: Do you have any future plans for the Double 3 and is there a way for users to customize the Double 3 for their unique applications?
Marc: The hardware inside Double 3 allows a lot of room for expandability in the future. Future software updates will include more autonomous features, like full-building mapping and navigation. We are also announcing a developer API, which will allow customers to write their own applications for Double. The API will allow customers to tap into the robot’s sensor data and autonomous features at various levels, so they don’t have to recreate the wheel, but they can also make powerful customizations.
L: Where can people purchase Double and is it available worldwide?
Marc: Double 3 is available to order now directly through our website, for $3999, and the first units will begin shipping toward the end of September. International customers can also order from one of our international partners, if we do not ship directly to their country.
L: The best technology is tech that changes the way we work, the way we travel, or drastically improves our lifestyle in some way. How do believe Double will change the world? 
David: In recent years, we have already seen a drastic increase in the number of companies offering remote job positions.  Our goal is to help augment the remote worker’s experience by enabling them to be more present in spontaneous hallway conversations, not just in the meeting room. With the cost of housing increasing and cities becoming overcrowded, companies are struggling to find good talent. Double 3 allows companies to hire the best people for the job, and allows remote employees to feel like first-class citizens.
With advanced development in robotics progressing year after year, new technology like the Double 3 will continue to innovate the way we work and improve aspects of our daily lives. Coupled with fast-paced growth in artificial intelligence, it is becoming more and more the case that the technology of tomorrow is being made today. 
What do you think of the Double telepresence robot? Let us and our readers know in the comments below!
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