Is this the future for video conferencing?

Video-conferencing’s such a great idea, but if you have a face like mine you’d probably benefit from make-up and good lighting before you get too involved in in-depth chat.

The other limitation is that these sessions tend to become fixed, a row of little static heads on screen all chattering earnestly away. In order to show people things you need to move them into the front of your camera. How can you put a little more life into these sessions?

That’s why we’re interested in the possibilities of new start-up firm, Double Robotics, which has an idea that could make video conferencing just a little more personal — an iPad mounted on a Segway-style roller.

What this contraption does is host an iPad at head height with an on-screen image of the face of the person you’re speaking to. More interesting, because the device has wheels, the person you are in conference with can move themselves around by controlling the motorised stand from where they are.

[BELOW: An early version of this device was shown at WWDC 2011.]

This means you can engage in more collaborative video chats, with the person you are talking too following you around in order to see those objects you want to discuss with them.

Another cool-sounding feature: The person chatting through the iPad can adjust their height remotely, so they can remain at eye level.

This might sound a little gimmicky, but around 250 of these things have already been pre-ordered (at $1,999 apiece) by seven Fortune 500 companies and the device is being tested by Johnson and Johnson and Coca Cola.

Inevitably you can imagine devices like these becoming de rigeur within collaborative workplaces. Those video conferences will become slightly more interactive and fun.

Other uses might include enabling enterprise users to keep an eye on what’s happening in manufacturers factories and museums and art galleries may be able to offer the chance to use these devices to explore exhibitions, no matter where in the world they are.

Now imagine what you could do if these things had arms….

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