Richard Garriot, the owner of a Austin, Texas-based video-game development company, has found the perfect way to keep an eye on his employees when he’s out of office – a $15,000 robot called QB60.
Garriott, who founded Origin Systems back in the 1980s, a company best known for creating the Ultima franchise (which led to the popular MMO “Ultima Online”), first discovered his robot stand-in last year, when he and the woman of his dreams got married in a 500-year-old chateau in France. He wanted his mother to be by his side one one of the most important days in his life, but the wasn’t in the best shape for such a long flight, so he had to figure out a way to have her there, without having her fly. The solution came from a California company called Anybots Inc., which specializes in making avatar-like robots that can be controlled via computer. The futuristic gizmo looks a lot like a balancing segway, but it’s actually a lot more: an ever-present telepresence equipped with two cameras, a microphone and a speaker that can be operated from anywhere using a broadband Internet connection.