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BrightCom Discusses Importance of Video Conferencing, Robotics in High-Risk Jobs

September 22, 2010

BrightCom sees excellent potential in making use of solutions like software-based video conferencing and telepresence robotics to reduce the risk of hazardous jobs and other potentially life-threatening situations, according to a press release.

Many enterprises are now making use of telepresence solutions to bring people together even though they may be located many miles apart. The same technology can be utilized to decrease the risk of dangerous occupations, such as mining. For example, the entrapment of 33 men in Peru and the collapse of the San Jose Mine illustrate the danger such occupations can pose to workers—and underscores the advantages the adoption of remote telepresence applications can have upon these industries.

In the 1980s, telepresence robotics was defined by Marvin Minsky in terms of advanced solutions that allowed surgeons or other workers to work anywhere across the planet with precision and distance from any risk to themselves, thanks to the use of mechanical hands.

Modern telepresence robotics have evolved considerably since then, now boasting human-like interfaces that allow users to collaborate and communicate via live video conferencing and humanoid robots. For instance, NASA’s Robonaut 2 (R2), the latest version of its humanoid robot for space research and exploration, uses high-resolution cameras, advanced sensors and human-like fingers to allow its controllers to easily manipulate objects or data through it.

Because such advanced systems are capable of being connected to video conferencing systems, people around the world are capable of collaborating, sharing and viewing their output in real time, and can also conduct real time brainstorming and decision-making as well.

Telepresence specialist BrightCom thus sees both the importance and potential of integrating software-based video conferencing and telepresence systems with telepresence robotics. This integration would take place via a standard API for remote control and a standards-based SIP connection. BrightCom continues to pursue the integration of robotics with videoconferencing and telepresence solutions, recently announcing a new initiative to integrate real-time telepresence solutions into submersible ROV camera sets used in underwater exploration and research.

BrightCom CEO Bob McCandless says that integrating telepresence robotics and video conferencing creates opportunities to speed up and increase safety for work in uninhabitable areas. However, he added, integrating telepresence robotics and software systems is the next step, as it allows for command and control of robots in conference systems and customized user interfaces. McCandless also added that while conferencing vendors using SIP, MCU infrastructures and H.264 video can integrate telepresence robotics, software-based conferencing infrastructures are able to offer scalability and flexibility that these traditional MCU or firmware-based systems cannot. 

Anuradha Shukla is a contributing editor for unified communications. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

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