Case Study: Twitter engineering uses Double to humanize remote conversations

Bridging the gap between formal and informal interaction 

Twitter’s Engineering team in San Francisco wasn’t alone in their search for a technology solution to the disconnect created by global sprawl. Joining the ranks alongside John Deere, Steelcase, and HP, VP of Engineering at Twitter Raffi Krikorian purchased his Double in August of 2013.

Krikorian’s Double lives in his office and, while he’s visiting the Pittsburgh satellite office, Double can wander the aisles.

Expanding video conferencing

Before Double entered the building, Twitter’s engineering team was heavily reliant on typical video conferencing applications. “We’re not averse to talking to people electronically,” Krikorian said. But there was something missing from the interactions that took place between the mounted screen in a conference room and the people sitting at the table. It was static, in the sense that the interaction was stuck between those walls. 

“For us, video conferencing works in a very regimented way - it’s tied to the calendar, literally,” Krikorian said. Meetings are very reactional and directive, he added. “But most work gets done between meetings, in casual conversations.”  

Krikorian missed out on water cooler conversations quite frequently: “One of the things that would frustrate me when I didn’t have Double, is when I was traveling, I felt really disconnected.” 

So they began their quest to humanize remote engineering at Twitter. 

Double: Modern, yet classic 

It was important that the solution they chose resembled Twitter’s company culture and the team’s personality. Double easily fit the bill - elegant, sleek, simple. “At Twitter, we’re pretty mindful of those types of touches,” Krikorian said. “We pride ourselves in being a design-ish culture.”  

A few years back, a clunkier version of a telepresence robot was tested at the San Francisco office, but it only gathered dust. ”It just didn’t do it for us,” Krikorian said. “With Double, it’s just simple. It’s just two wheels and a rod with an iPad attached to it. Everyone can get their heads around that.”

It’s not about the savings; it’s about the gains

Not surprisingly, Krikorian also uses Double while in San Francisco. He’s been known to connect to it in the evening after most people have left for home. “When I’m not in the office, I’ll just drive it around and see what people are doing,” Krikorian added. “If I bump into someone, we might chat for a bit, and then I keep on driving.” 

The engineering team operates under a “very lenient” work from home policy that also includes adjustable in-office hours. Although most prefer face-to-face interactions and opt for typical 9am-6pm days, some choose to work late into the night. On the nights that Krikorian connects to Double from his home in San Francisco, he is able to create face-to-face interactions that otherwise might not have been possible with team members who work more efficiently at night. 

“It allows that type of chance encounter to happen,” Krikorian said. “Instead of being very transactional, it becomes much more part of the environment.” 

Double has established an entirely new narrative for Twitter’s global engineering team. “I didn’t expect to feel connected to the office when I was driving Double around,” he said. “I feel better because I have a Double.” 

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TinyEYE Therapy Services + Double Robotics in Schools

Austin, March 4, 2014 – TinyEYE Therapy Services is taking telepractice to a new level of educational innovation. They announced this morning their official partnership with Double Robotics, a California-based robotics company known for their telepresent robot. TinyEYE has begun using this robot in delivering their speech therapy services in Canada and the USA.

Kindergarten Boy in Kansas Attends Class via His Double

HOISINGTON, Kansas – It’s been months since Austin Brack has been in a classroom, but that hasn’t stopped him from attending his kindergarten class.

He now uses a robot to go to school.

“It’s been huge for him. It’s given him a little bit more of a purpose,” said Amanda Brack, Austin’s mom.

Austin is diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome...

http://ksn.com/2014/02/10/robot-helping-a-kansas-boy-connect-with-his-class/

Double Charging Dock Accessory Now Available for Pre-order

Pre-Order Your Double Charging Dock Here »

Download the full press kit »

Las Vegas—January 07, 2014—Double Robotics, Inc. today announced at the 2014 International CES that the charging dock accessory for the Double telepresence robot is now available for pre-order through www.doublerobotics.com

“The charging dock has been the most requested accessory for Double,” said David Cann, CEO and Co-founder of Double Robotics, Inc.  “We’re excited to provide our customers with an accessory that makes it even easier to connect remotely.  Our ambitious engineers designed Double to be future-compatible with the charging dock, so that even our earliest customers can take advantage of this powerful upgrade.  The dock is designed around a single beautifully sculpted block of aluminum, so customers can proudly park their Double in the office.”

The charging dock is compatible with all Double robots that have been previously purchased.  The dock charges both Double and the attached iPad simultaneously.  A video demonstration of the dock is available on the Double robotics website.

A new iPad mount that supports iPad charging will be standard on all new units and included with a dock purchase free for customers with legacy iPad mounts.  The docking station is sold for $299 and will begin shipping in February 2014.

Double is part of the Apple Made for iPad Program and is compatible with iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation), iPad (4th generation), and iPad Air.

Online Apple Store + iPad Air Update

Double Now Available via Online Apple Store

We're thrilled to announce that Double is available for immediate delivery when purchased directly from the Online Apple Store.

We began shipping to customers in May 2013. Since then, we've seen over $2 million in sales and shipped units throughout the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Double is designed and hand-assembled in California at our headquarters.  Double will continue to be available at doublerobotics.com and distributors.

You can download the full press release as a pdf.

iPad Air Compatibility is Coming!

We know that many customers are eager to use a new iPad Air in their Double.  We're happy to announce that we have a low-cost solution to make all shipped Doubles compatible with the new iPad Air's smaller frame.  The cameras and buttons are in the same places relative to previous iPads.  We have designed a spacer that make your iPad Air fit snugly in Double's iPad case.  Here's a 3D rendering of this new spacer:

The Spacer for iPad Air will be available to ship by December 15th, 2013, barring any production delays.  Any customers who purchased a Double on or after October 15th (one week before the iPad Air announcement) can request a Spacer for free!  Other customers can purchase a Spacer for just $10 + shipping (Update: Spacers are now free and come with every Double in the box!).  An order form will be made available on our website as the ship date approaches.  Email us at info@doublerobotics.com with any questions.

Customer Support Improvements

We're happy to announce that we now have a dedicated customer support team and a brand new support site at: support.doublerobotics.com. Our goal is to respond to all requests on the same day (during California business hours) or within 24 hours. Please email support@doublerobotics.com at any time.

Also, check out this article on Guided Access Mode, which we highly recommend as a way to keep the Double app open and available, even after a crash or alert pops up.

iOS App Version 1.3 - Improved Battery Life

We released an update to our iPad and iPhone app last week.  It features improved battery life for the robot's iPad while in standby mode.  The screen will automatically dim to 0% brightness after a few minutes.  This allows you to leave your iPad's screen on without worrying about screen burn-in or the battery running out too quickly.  Combined with Guided Access Mode, this can be a powerful way to ensure Double is available at all times.