Beam Telepresence Robot

Industrial Design / Engineering
industrial design studios
The Client

Founded in 2011, Suitable Technologies products are designed and manufactured at its headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. An industry leader in telepresence solutions that combines mobility and video conferencing, Suitable Technologies is changing the face of remote work forever.  

"Finally, a personal and natural way to collaborate, check-in, and be present, no matter where you are."
-Suitable Technologies

The Product

Beam provides authentic eye-to-eye connection instantly across distance, allowing you to move within the space and engage in real-time seamlessly. The Beam family of products, which includes BeamPro® and Beam®, is an industry-leading telepresence solution that combines mobility and video conferencing for an immersive communication experience everywhere conversations occur.

The Challenge

Suitable Technologies' Beam concept was to alter the way remote employees engage with their colleagues. This smart presence system (SPS) needed to serve as a physical "body" for off-site employees, emphasizing face-to-face communication with onsite co-workers. Speck recognized multiple advanced A/V and motorized components that were needed to bring Beam to fruition. It was also crucial the exterior product design be warm, approachable, elegant, and easy for users to understand. Furthermore, Beam would need to be able to withstand some bumps and bruises along the way.

The process

Functionally, Speck addressed common roadblocks to success, such as encountering physical obstacles, navigating into a docking station, and maintaining optimal A/V levels. Intending to allow Beam to navigate more than just an occasional bumpy floor, Speck engineered the Beam's base to withstand 100 head-on collisions without damage. This meant designing the Beam's front and rear bumpers for maximum absorption of impact energy and optimal isolation of shock transfer. Sheet metal was selected for a flexible and integrated suspension system, allowing the Beam to glide over rough ground. Using a partnership with acoustic engineers to create a microphone array mounting system and a sleek speaker box design, the Beam broadcasts superior in-room sound clarity. Aesthetically, the Speck Team chose to conceal the technologies to pivot users away from intimidation and toward curiosity and interaction. An elegant and minimalist docking and charging station for ease in navigation and charging were also included.

the outcome

The balance of humanity and technology, a Speck hallmark, was perfectly expressed in this design effort. The soft, rounded, and unassuming robotic form avoided "uncanny valley," encouraged collaboration and interaction, and helped remote employees feel closer to their teams. These aesthetic choices also allowed the Beam robot to fit into any office environment around the world. The Beam revolutionizes connectivity and improves corporate culture with customers including Microsoft, Mars, Splunk, Xtreme Labs, and Magic Leap. You may catch sight of it at a trade show, wedding, or even on a rerun of "The Big Bang Theory." As telepresence rockets to $13 billion in revenues by 2017, Suitable Technologies remains a frontrunner.

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