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July 16th, 2013

DoubleRoboticsIn May 2013, at the VERGE Conference in Boston—“where tech meets sustainability”—the keynote address was delivered by Andrew McAfee, a top-tier “IT leadership strategist” and lead researcher at MIT Sloan’s Center for Digital Business. The audience watched McAfee’s face closely as he spoke, while he ambled casually about the stage to look at and interact with different groups of people. There was just one little difference between McAfee’s keynote address and all the other presentations before and after: McAfee was in Arizona at the time. His “appearance” served to dramatize various themes of the conference, particularly sustainability and “smart city ecosystems”: McAfee reduced his cost, time, waste, and environmental impact by “going” to VERGE virtually, rather than on a commercial jet.

A conflict in his schedule forced McAfee to deliver his address from Arizona via a teleconferencing system—literally a robot and an iOS app—from Double Robotics. Remotely, McAfee controlled a wheeled, electro-motorized, 47- to 60-inch stand dubbed “Double” that is something like the Segway “people mover.” (The system doesn’t include Apple’s tablet, so you’d mount a CRE iPad rental on the stand, with the screen facing the audience, some 4 to 5 feet high.) The screen that day was filled with McAfee’s face (the iPad was his head, the Double his body) and he could gauge audience reactions via the iPad’s front camera. In what way was McAfee not there? And what does “there” even mean in this context? The proliferation of all different kinds of simpler, cheaper, and better meeting and conferencing technology will quickly redefine what it means to have a “face to face” meeting.

Irreversible transformations ahead

The topic of McAfee’s keynote was the theme of a recent book that he co-authored with Erik Brynjolfsson, Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, andDouble Robotics Virtual presence Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. The Industrial Revolution effectively moved the human race past its physical limitations, by creating machines and processes to be our “muscles.” Just 40 years or so into the Home Computer Age—with today’s standard desktop computer rental thousands of times more powerful than the computer on the original moon landing—we have refined our “thinking machines” sufficiently to offload ever more sophisticated and complex number-crunching and analysis.

With more and more “knowledge-related tasks” being automated, freeing humans from repetitive and mundane work, other technological advances will provide more, and more powerful, tools for innovation. The expensive process undertaken by Steve Jobs going on 20 years ago—modeling, making prototypes, refining every component as he created the iMac—is available now to millions via 3D printers, whose prices keep falling in the usual market-driven way. When you reflect on the passionate creativity of some fellow humans, and understand the basics of science and technology, you know it won’t be long before 3D printers will be a normal part of many office equipment rentals inventories, and why you can’t even begin to imagine what is coming next.

CRE truly is your smart source for everything in tech, including high-powered computer rentals specially configured for challenging graphics, animation, and post-production. Whether your challenge is on the road, in the office, or at a conference, the solutions are all right here. Call an expert Account Executive at (877) 266-7725, send us a message, or visit the Quick Rental Quote page. If you’re ready to go, we’re ready to help!

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