Polly: Telepresence from a Guide's Shoulder


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.