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iRobot not just phoning it in

ConnectR communications robot lets you see who's talking and follow them around the room.

iRobot's ConnectR
iRobot

It's not quite Rosie yet, Mr. Brooks, but we'll concede that the company you founded is a step closer to The Jetsons world of communications.

iRobot is expected to unveil this ConnectR communications robot, aka a physical avatar, at DigitalLife 2007 on Thursday.

iRobot

The ConnectR for $499 is a robot you control on your behalf from anywhere in the world using a Web-based application. With a VoIP speakerphone and one-way video, it allows you to carry on a conversation as if you are right in the room. You can also control where it goes.

The video camera mounted on the ConnectR allows the user to have wide-angle views and zoom in close enough to read text.

Think of it as a really advanced VoIP speaker/videophone that can move around the room.

ConnectR works over a local wireless network that the robot finds and prompts the owner to choose upon setup. Visitors are required to enter a unique access code in order to inhabit the ConnectR, but homeowners can also control access to the robot with a privacy button.