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Cisco® TelePresence® has transformed the way we collaborate—enabling immersive, face-to-face meetings at a distance, and access to remote experts anywhere in the world. What if that experience was combined with robotic technology, to give the remote user “location spontaneity”—the ability to move around a faraway space…have a chance encounter in the hallway or tour the factory floor?

That is why Cisco’s new joint effort with iRobot—demonstrated publicly this week for the first time—is so exciting: We’ve created a mobile Cisco TelePresence unit that brings collaboration to you—or, conversely, brings you to wherever you need to collaborate. Called iRobot Ava 500, this high-definition video collaboration robot combines Cisco TelePresence with iRobot’s mobility and self-navigation capabilities, enabling freedom of movement and spontaneous interactions with people thousands of miles away.

To illustrate, imagine you are an executive responsible for selecting a new logistics partner to ship your goods globally. You could send regional managers to visit facilities in each major city to verify their capabilities—or you could go yourself, virtually. You would simply tap an iPad screen to awaken the robot from its charging station in the vendor’s facility, then tap where you want to go on a map. You would appear on the mobile TelePresence screen as the robot moves autonomously throughout the remote location—meeting with executives, talking with employees, and touring the facility. And you would do it all from your office, or home, or hotel room, or wherever you happen to be.

There are currently about 19 million robots on planet earth, and that number doubles about every 18 to 24 months. Up until now, we’ve mostly thought of robots in industrial or military settings—they help us build cars and detonate bombs, for instance. But because of advances in computing power, connectivity, cloud, and sensor technology—in combination with the retirement of aging baby boomers—we are going to start seeing a lot more “white collar” robots in the enterprise space in coming years. Contrary to popular belief, these robots will not take jobs away from human workers. Rather, they will extend the reach of workers and help scale human knowledge and expertise. iRobot Ava 500 is just the beginning, giving people a seat at the table in locations they might not otherwise be able to go.

As I have said before, the real value of the Internet of Everything lies in the connections among people, process, data, and things. And in many ways, the video collaboration robot embodies every aspect of this principle—connecting people to enable rich, immersive interactions; creating and sharing data via wireless video streams; connecting a smart, sophisticated “thing” to a network of networks; and transforming processes by enabling us to work and interact in previously unimagined ways.

Ava 500 creates value by enabling rich new mobile connections in the Internet of Everything. Distance will no longer be an obstacle to spontaneous “in-person” meetings. You can attend large or small events from anywhere you have iPad connectivity and standards-based videoconferencing capability. With Ava 500, you are one step closer to “being there,” no matter where you are.

For more information about how the Internet of Everything is transforming the world, please see: http://cs.co/IoE_IBSG

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