Humans To Replace Telepresence Robots At Events

Skift Take

Look out robots, the humans are coming to replace you! At least, that's the case for one human who wants to replace telepresence robots.

Meet Stefan Wabner, actor, mime and part-time robot. When he isn’t traveling around the world with his theater group “Pantomime Popkultur”, Stefan likes to get into character as a mime robot he calls Steve the Machine. Recently, Stefan found a new use for Steve. Thanks to an upgraded face (a video screen), Steve now has a new job as a telepresence robot. Yes, that’s right, it’s a human dressed as a robot, filling in for a human.

telepresence robot stefan

What’s The Point Of Steve?

You could argue that telepresence robots work and don’t need replacing. That may be true, however, a disembodied head on a stick is not the most engaging of things to watch on a stage. A giant projected talking head isn’t much better. When Stefan is on stage, dressed as Steve, he can move around the stage gesturing and gesticulating just like a real human. It’s almost as good as having the speaker there on stage. In some cases, thanks to the novelty factor, it might even be better than the real thing!

human telepresence robot on stage

The Future of Telepresence Robots

While this solution might not suit all events, we’re certain this won’t be the last we hear of Steve the Machine or human telepresence robots. Audience engagement can be tricky and Steve brings a little bit of art and showmanship that you just don’t get with a real robot… yet. Steve may even outlive the robot uprising. It probably won’t be long before telepresence robots take on a more human-like form but it’s doubtful they will be anywhere near as entertaining or as much fun as Steve. To see Steve (Stefan) in action, check the video at the end of the post.

stefan inside telepresence robot

In Conclusion

Telepresence robots are here to stay but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with the concept. Next time you’re in need of a telepresence robot, maybe what you actually need is a telepresence human. If you can think of any other event robot roles that can be replaced by humans, we’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments.