Robots and Payments - DoubleRobotics Telepresence Robot at RSPA2016

Blog Post created by paulblick on Aug 5, 2016

     Surfing the cutting edge of the ‘wave’ of new technology is a huge passion of mine. In all aspects of my life I strive to seek out fun ways to use new technology to enable more immersive and meaningful interactions with my friends and colleagues. Fully mobile devices such as smartphones, wearable smartwatches, and virtual-reality/augmented-reality technology is exploding and trending in today’s fast-paced tech markets and is being adopted at a stunning pace by millennials and people of all ages. Never before has technology been available at such an accessible level to enable the average consumer to have seamless conversations and meaningful interactions with real people across the world.


     You might say “sure - the internet has been around for quite some time – communication isn’t anything new”. While you’d be right,  there is a big difference between e-mail communication, or even a phone-call, and the ability to directly interact and communicate with your colleagues. We see this concept being leveraged through teleconference service provider giants such as GoToMeeting and WebEx, etc. This is truly a whole new emerging set of technologies to enable more immersive interactions - the next step.


     However a new avenue for digital face-to-face interactions has also begun to emerge in the form of ‘telepresence robotics’ which promise to take this concept to the next level.  I had the pleasure of participating in a great ‘techy’ initiative of our department recently which used a telepresence robot to allow for us to digitally visit and participate in the RSPA conference. A big shout-out and thanks again to dourada and mozvat for making it a reality and for holding my digital hand as we walked around RSPA!!


     Powered by DoubleRobotics the telepresence robot allowed for me and my team based in Durango Colorado to roll around the RSPA floor and to interact with live people in real time! The ‘robot’ itself has microphone and speaker systems to enable us to talk through the robot. Most importantly the robot has a camera to allow for me to visually see the remote space and it also displays the face of whomever is driving the robot via webcam, enabling detailed interactions to occur between the involved parties.


     Overall the robot worked well –  I feel that this technology is still in an early state and that there is a lot of room for improvement. We had some challenges which primarily revolved around the network available to us at RSPA - lag and degraded images did make certain interactions difficult. I can't wait for these telepresence robots to be supported with a VR headset to create an even more immersive experience!


     How does this technology relate to payments? It doesn’t yet. However, as I rolled around RSPA interacting with the people there, I couldn’t help but feel like a kiosk! I’ve worked with many ISV partners of Vantiv to integrate kiosk solutions with our platform...but a mobile kiosk? Now that’s an idea!


     After all, the telepresence robot is nothing more than an iPad on a pole. Vantiv supports many integration options for mobile tablet-based systems and this lead me to think about a telepresence robot that also had the ability to accept credit cards through some type of basic built-in MSR or chip-card reader. The use-cases explode out quickly from here - a line-busting robot to help reduce wait-times for customers? Or perhaps a robotic waiter who can sell concessions to cardholders?


     Robotics is the way of the future – combining robots and payments together can enable a powerful solution for business owners to sell goods and services. No longer would standard kiosk solution need to be considered ‘unattended’ – whether manned by a physical human presence or enable through some form of futuristic interactive AI, the future of payments and robots looks to be a very bright one.


Feel free to follow me for more updates regarding this interesting topic as technology continues to evolve to fit this growing space.

Thanks for reading!