Polly

Mobile, interactive telepresence wearables

Telepresence systems usually lack mobility. Polly, a wearable telepresence device, allows users to explore remote locations or experience events remotely by means of a person that serves as a mobile “guide”. Polly consists of a smartphone mounted on a stabilized gimbal that is wearable. The gimbal enables remote control of the viewing angle as well as providing active image stabilization while the guide is walking. Polly can be carried by hand, placed on ‘perches’, rest on surfaces, or worn by way of a backpack frame with an attachment holding Polly near the shoulder of its wearer.

We chose a wearable solution since mobile robots are difficult to control and lack mobility over terrain that is not adapted to their style of locomotion (e.g., staircases). The solution we believe that works best with the current level of technology is to use a human ‘guide’ at the location a remote per- son wishes to visit. Having a human guide who carries or wears the Polly device has the following advantages:

  1. the guide is in constant communication with the remote user and can easily understand their wishes
  2. humans are extremely mobile and agile, especially in environments built by and for humans
  3. the guide can mediate conversations between the remote operator and other people encountered
  4. the social interaction between the guide and remote person may be a positive part of the overall experience.

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Related Publications

2015
Publication Details
  • MobileHCI 2015
  • Aug 24, 2015

Abstract

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In this paper we report findings from two user studies that explore the problem of establishing common viewpoint in the context of a wearable telepresence system. In our first study, we assessed the ability of a local person (the guide) to identify the view orientation of the remote person by looking at the physical pose of the telepresence device. In the follow-up study, we explored visual feedback methods for communicating the relative viewpoints of the remote user and the guide via a head-mounted display. Our results show that actively observing the pose of the device is useful for viewpoint estimation. However, in the case of telepresence devices without physical directional affordances, a live video feed may yield comparable results. Lastly, more abstract visualizations lead to significantly longer recognition times, but may be necessary in more complex environments.
2014
Publication Details
  • MobileHCI 2014 (Industrial Case Study)
  • Sep 23, 2014

Abstract

Close
Telepresence systems usually lack mobility. Polly, a wearable telepresence device, allows users to explore remote locations or experience events remotely by means of a person that serves as a mobile "guide". We built a series of hardware prototypes and our current, most promising embodiment consists of a smartphone mounted on a stabilized gimbal that is wearable. The gimbal enables remote control of the viewing angle as well as providing active image stabilization while the guide is walking. We present qualitative findings from a series of 8 field tests using either Polly or only a mobile phone. We found that guides felt more physical comfort when using Polly vs. a phone and that Polly was accepted by other persons at the remote location. Remote participants appreciated the stabilized video and ability to control camera view. Connection and bandwidth issues appear to be the most challenging issues for Polly-like systems.

Polly: Telepresence from a Guide's Shoulder

Publication Details
  • Assistive Computer Vision and Robotics Workshop of ECCV
  • Sep 12, 2014

Abstract

Close
Polly is an inexpensive, portable telepresence device based on the metaphor of a parrot riding a guide's shoulder and acting as proxy for remote participants. Although remote users may be anyone with a desire for `tele-visits', we focus on limited mobility users. We present a series of prototypes and field tests that informed design iterations. Our current implementations utilize a smartphone on a stabilized, remotely controlled gimbal that can be hand held, placed on perches or carried by wearable frame. We describe findings from trials at campus, museum and faire tours with remote users, including quadriplegics. We found guides were more comfortable using Polly than a phone and that Polly was accepted by other people. Remote participants appreciated stabilized video and having control of the camera. One challenge is negotiation of movement and view control. Our tests suggests Polly is an effective alternative to telepresence robots, phones or fixed cameras.