When entering an office, most people are accustomed to being greeted by a warm, smiling person that makes them feel welcome. Not anymore.
Anybots, the Silicon Valley start-up known for its telepresence robot called “QB”, is offering a new service called AnyLobby that will provide a telepresence staff to greet guests.
Anybots started offering QB for individual sale in 2010 and people have already used it to work remotely, order and pick up food, and many other activities. It can move around by remote control and uses sophisticated mobile videoconferencing hardware to communicate with people around it.
The new receptionist service costs about $2,400 a month and includes a full-time telepresence staff provided by Anybots. Anybots says QB can scan faxes and print documents, but doesn’t have arms, so it can’t sign for a package when it arrives. However, one company found a creative solution -- they set up a protocol for it to “Call Bob when there’s a package.” The human on the other end can be physically located anywhere and only needs a reliable Internet connection. One human can control multiple QBs and therefore be in many places at once, potentially saving companies a lot of money – and yes, putting receptionists out of a job.
Some companies may be worried a robot will not make guests feel as comfortable as a real live human, but for years, businesses have been letting go of the idea that human interaction is necessary for good customer service. Self-checkout kiosks are now commonplace, and Walmart just announced they’ll be retiring their famous “greeters” that stand by the front door to welcome customers (though Walmart claims the greeters have new responsibilities and they’ll be no layoffs – yet).
Welcome to the future.