Virtual presence robots helping people connect safely during pandemic

Robots capable of doing multiple jobs
Virtual Presence Robots helping people connect safely during pandemic
Virtual Presence Robots helping people connect safely during pandemic
Virtual Presence Robots helping people connect safely during pandemic
Posted at 11:57 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 16:31:46-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — COVID-19 has made getting together with your family and friends much harder. If you want to see someone, you can't just head to their house to chat. So now, people are turning to robots.

Virtual presence robots can you help with communication and much more, which is probably why they're so popular during this pandemic.

"The pandemic has peaked the interest on virtual presence machines like this," said Jonathan Fecchino, a manager with Preferred Network Provider in Las Vegas. Part of his business includes leasing these robots.

He says the virtual presence robots will roll for up to eight hours on one charge and can carry hundreds of pounds. But, it's the built-in, two-way teleconference technology that's made these robots so popular during the pandemic.

"You’re able to have that extra social distancing aspect with these because you can remote into this from literally anywhere in the world. You can project anything that’s on your dual screen set up onto the screen that’s on the virtual presence robot," said Fecchino.

You may have already seen some of these robots on the Las Vegas Strip, where they've been working as rolling billboards.

"The unit gets so much attention just as it is, where everybody stops and looks at it," said Fecchino.

But Fecchino says mobile advertising is just scratching the surface of what these robots can do. From retail to real estate, it makes a great tour guide.

"They can show the house through virtual open houses. They can use Google Meet and Zoom and tag on up to 1,000 people onto a unit and give them a virtual tour of a house," said Fecchino.

And from hospitality to healthcare, this technology helps the staff stay safe while serving others.

"Don’t put them at risk. Put all of the equipment that you need, attach it to the unit, and send the robot in," said Fecchino.

The robot allows instructors at Summerlin Dance Academy to safely teach classes from anywhere in the world.

"You’re not putting yourself at risk by using the machine. Use it for what it is, it’s a tool," said Fecchino.

At Las Vegas Uniforms, management has rented a robot to talk to customers and take their temperatures.

"We do temperature checks at the door, but now we have this new thing where we do thermal with this machine. So, I can see if anybody has a temperature and then I can ask them politely to come back another day," said Lisa Stetson, an account executive with Las Vegas Uniforms.

Stetson says the robots help the company cater to customers while keeping the staff at a safe social distance.

"It gives us a great conversation piece and to help us just keep everybody safe. That’s our main concern is to be keeping our people safe," said Stetson.

Traditionally, one of the biggest criticisms of robots is that they take away jobs from real people. But Fecchino disputes that when it comes to his virtual presence robots, arguing they require someone to operate them at all times and they could even create jobs.

If you'd like to learn more about the virtual presence robots at Preferred Network Provider, click this link.