Double Robots Go for a Dress Rehearsal in Connecticut

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The Connecticut Tech Act Project (CTTAP) is getting ready for its annual conference with help from two virtual-presence robots! Thanks to Carol Magliocco, Ph.D., PT, ATP, and Amy Norton, M.Ed., ATP, CAPS of EASTCONN for this CTTAP newsletter article.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the Double Robots available through EASTCONN Assistive Technology and Transition Services (a CTTAP partner) went to the Hartford Hilton for a dress rehearsal.

Arlene with robot
CTTAP Director Arlene Lugo with the EASTCONN Double Robot in Hartford

Double Robots can be used for telepresence in schools, employment settings, meetings, etc. Users log into the robot with their own computer, tablet or even smartphone to move around a remote environment and interact with others.

The first Double Robot was tested to ensure that its debut at the March conference would be a success. The Double Robot will connect conference attendees with our keynote speaker, Liz Persaud, who will address the crowd from her home in Georgia. Liz is the training and outreach coordinator for Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Program, a component of AMAC Accessibility at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Technical specifications were reviewed to project the image from the Double Robot onto two large screens. The screens and an accompanying sound system will bring Liz “up close and personal” for the keynote address she will give to kick off the conference: “Teamwork, Technology, and Tenacity: Reflections on a Journey of a Lifetime.” Liz will be able to move her robot around the stage area to better interact with conference attendees.

Later in the morning, Liz will again use the Double Robot when she and her husband, Benjamin Jacobs, present “Accessing Your World: Exploring Environmental Control Technologies.” The robot will allow conference attendees to talk in “real time” with Liz and Ben, and to comment and ask questions. (For more information on Liz’s presentation, check out the Summer 2018 newsletter archived at this CT Tech Act webpage ).

The second Double Robot, which also had a dress rehearsal, will enable an off-site attendee to virtually attend the conference. Patti Clay, the former Bureau Chief at the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, now resides out of state and took just a few minutes to learn how to walk her robot from presentation room to presentation room so she could experience what it will be like to attend a conference using the robot.

Patti notes, “I think the robot is a ‘game changer.’ It allows someone who cannot physically be in a specific location to not only see and hear what is going on but to be able to contribute. It also allows the person to participate in multiple areas and it was easy to move around with my laptop!”

Learn more about EASTCONN’s Double Robots
Learn more about CTTAP’s Achievement Through Assistive Technology Conference