With a surge in new mobile telepresence technology in the market, companies have more options than ever to integrate remote presentations into live, staged events. One start-up company making headway in this space is Double Robotics. They’ve invented the “Double” – a robot-like mobile teleconferencing system that is controlled remotely. Put simply, the device is an iPad on wheels. The iPad becomes the “face” of the remote person who controls the robot from another iPad or a web browser.
Our creative team was recently tasked with integrating this new technology into a high-level live event showcasing Accenture’s Chairman & CEO Pierre Nanterme, addressing from Paris, France, a large audience at Q Center, our conference facility in St. Charles, IL. The road to success involved several detailed planning stages and coordination among several teams including Accenture’s Technology Labs that provided the robot and used it as part of a larger research and development effort around digital workforces. Here is a breakdown of what we did to make it all work:
- Figure out Why. Our first task was to understand why the client wanted to integrate the technology. Knowing “why” informed nearly every other aspect of the planning. Our client was interested in the “cool factor” of the robot, but it was also about creating an “intimate” environment that would allow Mr. Nanterme to be up close and personal with the participants.
- Communicate and Delegate. Once we had a clear end in mind, we started laying down a stable path forward by establishing who needed to be involved in the planning and how decisions would be made along the way. We established a clear production schedule that outlined deliverables and responsibilities, including specific touch points with the client and extended production team. How would the robot get on stage? Who would help Mr. Nanterme control the robot from Paris? What was our backup plan if the Double failed?
- Test the technology. Then, test it again. And again. Testing was a key factor to our success. We setup two formal testing times before the event where we could have the remote operator in Paris control the robot in a similar environment to the live show. These testing sessions proved critical for success because they allowed issues to surface well before the show date.
- Make it Interactive. Remember, our client wanted to feature interaction between Mr. Nanterme and the audience. In the end, we decided to change our game plan for Q&A and invite participants onstage to ask their questions to Mr. Nanterme “face to face.” This aspect of the event made the Double even more fun for them, and allowed us to maintain visibility of the action with our cameras. Each Q&A participant was rewarded for their bravery with the opportunity to take a “selfie” with Mr. Nanterme’s double.
- Debrief and Celebrate! Whenever you have a new production element to a show, it’s always a good idea to reflect on what worked and what didn’t – especially with a popular piece of technology that is likely to be used again in the future. We put our heads together for a debrief conference call within two weeks of the show to make sure we documented best practices for next time. We were also thrilled to hear that the use of the Double garnered recognition in Paris’ local press and was a popular feature internally for Accenture.
The Double robotic technology was a huge hit for Accenture as the company continues to experiment with emerging telepresence technology, and it was a unique way for the participants to get in touch with their Chairman & CEO at an important event. As our team looks to integrate other high tech gadgets into our production repertoire, we’ll be sure to follow a similar path in managing the technical and functional considerations to deliver a memorable show.
Article contributed by Thomas M. Densmore, AMM, CMMA Board Member