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Thalmic Labs uses iPad on wheels to work long distance

As the tech community in Waterloo Region grows, many startups and companies have to coordinate with colleagues and collaborators across Canada and around the world. At Kitchener's Thalmic Labs, staff have a unique tool available to make long distance communication easier.

Telepresence robot allows out of town employees to have physical avatar

As the tech community in Waterloo Region grows, there is a greater need for long distance communication with employees or collaborators in other parts of the world. At Kitchener's Thalmic Labs, staff use a telepresence robot when there's a need for instantaneous visual feedback. 2:27

As Waterloo Region's tech sector grows, many startups and companies in the community have to co-ordinate with employees or collaborators in other parts of Canada and abroad.

For certain occasions where an email or a phone call won't do, Thalmic Labs in Kitchener has a unique solution: a robot.

Developed by Double Robotics in California, the robot, or Double, is essentially an Apple iPad on wheels that can be piloted remotely using a Mac or PC computer, iPhone or a second iPad.

Anand Janefalkar (left) speaks to a Thalmic Labs employee in Kitchener from San Francisco. (Matthew Kang/CBC )

That's what San Francisco-based Anand Janefalkar used when he wanted to communicate with Thalmic colleagues in Kitchener. (Between the time the video was shot and this story was published, Janefalkar had stopped working for the company).

"Human face to face interaction trumps everything," said Janefalkar. "But it is quite a bit of an upgrade from a phone call or a video call."

To see the Double in action, click on the video above.