Inspiration

At work, we use a tele-presence robot call the BEAM. It is a very cool piece of technology that works to enable more personal remote meetings between people, and increase the amount of "presence" a person may have remotely. However, upon checking the cost of such technology, the 2.5k USD to 15k+ USD price tag per unit is very discouraging for adoption by everyone other than the largest of corporations. We as a team decided to leverage the ease-of-use for modern cloud servers, the power low cost IoT hardware, and powerful embedded code and iOS application through Swift, to tackle this challenge.

What it does

Aura is a telepresence system that incorporates both hardware and software. The exception, is that the hardware and software are now separated, and any drive train can pair with any aura app holder to enable the use of the aura system. We aim to provide telepresence at a low cost, increased convenience, and flexibility. It allows multi-party video calling, and incorporates overlay UI to control the drive train.

How we built it

Using Swift for iOS, Arduino for the ESP32, and NodeRED for the web application service, plus Watson IoT Platform and Twilio Video API.

Challenges we ran into

One does not simply run into challenges, when working with the awesomeness that is aura.

What's next for Aura

Add bluetooth support for local pairing, avoid extra complexity of IoT. Better UI with more time, and develop different sizes of drive trains that support life-sized telepresence, like the beam, with iPads and other tablets.

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