Turn Your iPad Into a Robot With CloneBy - 02/28/2017
Remember that time when Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory built the Mobile Virtual Presence Device? It was a telepresence device, similar to what many businesses use today to improve communication between different offices. If you are looking for a similar, real-world solution and have a spare Android tablet or iPad, checkout Clone.
Clone: A Multipurpose Telepresence Device
Autonomous, the same company that created the SmartDesk, is currently working to bring Clone to life. Clone is a 43.3″ tall tablet stand on wheels. It acts as a video conferencing system that not only allows you to speak with people who are miles away but also to roam around to check things out. It can move 70 cm per second, and since it’s battery-powered, it can roam freely for about 3 hours. When it’s almost out of juice, it autonomously goes back to its dock to recharge.
To get started, you must first install Clone’s Android or iOS app to your spare tablet. The app turns the tablet into a two-way video communication solution by using its front camera, screen, microphone, and speaker. Once done, you can attach the tablet to Clone’s tablet-holder. Next, you need a receiving device. You can turn your device into a receiver by downloading Clone’s computer software.
Like the app, the software turns your computer into a two-way video communication device. But it can also do other things. For example, you can use the software to make Clone “walk” during video calls by tapping on your laptop’s arrow keys. There are also pre-installed features or “apps” that allow you to do different things such as take snapshots and record videos or even command Clone back to its charging dock. Though currently, Clone only has “apps” created by Autonomous, Clone’s SDK is open. Developers are invited to create custom solutions to add to Autonomous’ App Store for download by others.
Clone for Home Security
One thing that makes Clone unique from other telepresence devices is its ability to enhance home security. For example, while you’re away, you can use Clone to patrol your house and check for anything unusual. If you have a security system installed, you can also use Clone to investigate alerts and see what’s really going on. But the question is, is it reliable enough for home security use? And the answer is, no. Unlike security cameras, Clone can’t detect motion, doesn’t have night vision, and lacks discreetness.
Does this mean that Clone has no future in home security? Maybe. Maybe not. Remember, open SDK. Who knows what the future holds for Clone.
As a telepresence device, Clone is an attractive solution. The retail price is $499 in a market where telepresence devices can easily sell for $3000. Sure, it has fewer features, and it requires an old tablet or iPad to work, but it does enough for way less.
Take note, however, that Clone is not the only good option. Although personal home robots are not advertised as telepresence devices, they most often have features similar to Clone. They are mobile, they feature communication solutions, and they are designed for home security and home automation. Some of them even have special features such as voice control, face recognition, and integration with popular smart home brands. Before you order Clone, be sure to check out Aido, Buddy, and Zenbo first.
You can pre-order Clone on Autonomous’ website for $499. It is expected to ship by May of this year.