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172UKPD         © 2004-5 PatentlyProtected.com
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ABSTRACT

A robot for permitting internet based users to virtually interact and have face to face conversations with
attendees at a social or business event. This business aid allows social networking without requiring
physical attendance.

A conferencing robot

This invention relates to a robot for permitting virtual access to physical meetings and conferences.

In the past it has been necessary to travel for business meetings. Video conferencing has changed this but
is only suitable for scheduled meetings with pre-arranged persons. It is therefore not suitable for social
networking, which by its nature cannot be planned and occurs throughout a venue rather than at a computer
terminal.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a means whereby a remote user may engage in social
interaction or other social intercourse without requiring scheduling.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a means whereby a remote user may engage in a
social networking event.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a robot having at least voice interaction
means, imaging means and means for transportation, being adapted to permit a remote user to control said
robot for directed transportation, to at least transmit imaging data to the remote user, and to transmit audio
data to said remote user and receive audio data from said remote user.
According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program for controlling
the robot of the first aspect.
According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer for controlling the robot of
the first aspect and for connection to or housing within the robot of the first aspect
According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer for controlling a service for
connecting users to at least one robot of the first aspect.
According to a fifth aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program for controlling a
computer terminal for connecting to the robot of the first aspect.

In the following description, various aspects of the present invention will be described. For purposes of
explanation, specific configurations and details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of
the present invention. However, it will also be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may
be practiced without the specific details. Furthermore, well known features may be omitted or simplified in
order not to obscure the present invention.

According to a general embodiment of the first aspect there is provided a robot having at least voice
interaction means, imaging means and means for transportation, being adapted to permit a remote user to
control said robot for directed transportation, to at least transmit imaging data to the remote user, and to
transmit audio data to said remote user and receive audio data from said remote user, for permitting a
remote user to engage virtually in social intercourse with any person proximal to said robot.

Connection will normally be via computer terminal via the internet to a wireless network to the robot.
A user will be able to view imaging data (the surroundings of the robot) via a user interface such as a web
browser or conferencing software interface. Audio (voice) transmission is provided between the user and
robot which may require a user to provide a microphone for a terminal. The robot is provided with a speaker
and microphone for permitting social discourse with any person or other robot in the vicinity of the robot.
The robot preferably has an internal power source and can be controlled to move around a floor surface.
The robot may be adapted to be configurable to resist controlling directions to leave a designated area. It
may be adapted to sense and refuse to cross a magnetic field area such as a strip of magnetized tape on a
floor surface.
The robot may have a visual display such as a flat screen arranged suitable for viewing by people, for
displaying image data provided by a remote user (for permitting two-way face-to-face conversation).
The robot may be provided with any combination of additional features or peripherals such as a scanner,
printer, handset, dual imaging device or other devices for virtual reality interaction, adjustable height control,
arm and gripper, or retracting power cord for self re-charging.
A visual display and imaging device may be provided such that two such robots viewing each other may
substantially not suffer frame interference effects (as are common when imaging a computer screen).
The robot will have a means of visually displaying information identifying a user. Such means will normally
be a flat panel display which will also display user image data when available.

In principle according to at least one embodiment, the robot permits a remote user to virtually move to or
between people at a meeting, conference or other gathering in real time and engage in any appropriate
social interaction without necessitating a meeting schedule. This social interaction aid permits physical
networking at an event without necessitating the user to physically be there. Such robots may be provided by
or rented to permit attendees virtual presence. Users may log onto an unused robot via the internet.

Any combination of any of the features and embodiments hereinbefore and hereafter described may be
combined to form a new embodiment. Additionally any such combination may form a single feature from
which either one or at least one item thereof must be provided, which may be combined with any
embodiment to form a new embodiment. A description of every possible permutation has not been
attempted here for the sake of brevity.

Description of the Preferred Embodiment.
A preferred embodiment of this invention will now be explained.

There is provided a robot having at least voice interaction means, imaging means and means for
transportation, being adapted to permit a remote user to control said robot for directed transportation, to at
least transmit imaging data to the remote user, and to transmit audio data to said remote user and receive
audio data from said remote user, for permitting a remote user to engage virtually in social intercourse with
any person proximal to said robot.
The robot has a flat panel screen for displaying user data, a speaker for transmitting user data and a
microphone and video camera to record audio and visual data for transmitting back to the remote user.
The robot is self powered, adapted to move on powered wheels, and adapted to connect wirelessly to a
base station connected to the internet.
A user may connect via the internet to the robot and control the robot to move at least within a pre-definable
area for virtually engaging in social intercourse with any person proximal to the robot.
Two proximal robots will also permit respective users to engage in social intercourse.

The apparatus and methods disclosed and claimed herein can be made and executed without undue
experimentation in light of the present disclosure. While the apparatus and methods of this invention have
been described in terms of preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that
variations may be applied to the apparatus, methods and in the steps or in the sequence of steps of the
method described herein without departing from the concept, spirit and scope of the invention. All
substitutes and modifications apparent to those skilled in the art are deemed to be within the spirit, scope
and concept of the invention as defined by the appended claims.



CLAIMS

1. A robot having at least voice interaction means, imaging means and means for transportation, being
adapted to permit a remote user to control said robot for directed transportation, to at least transmit imaging
data to the remote user, and to transmit audio data to said remote user and receive audio data from said
remote user, for permitting a remote user to engage virtually in social intercourse with any person proximal
to said robot.

2. The robot of claim 1 having a visual display for displaying information identifying a user and displaying
image data from a user.

3. The robot of claim 1 or 2 adapted to connect wirelessly to a base station for connection to the internet.

4. The robot of claim 1, 2 or 3 being adapted to be at least configurable to resist user directions for leaving
an at least pre-definable area.

5. A computer for controlling the robot of any of claims 1 to 4.

6. A computer program for controlling the computer of claim 5.

7. A computer for controlling a service for connecting a user to the computer of claim 5.

8. A robot as hereinbefore described.
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