Sneak is not entirely sure if this is real or some sort of viral stunt to drum up web clicks. San Francisco-based startup HeadThere has apparently dreamt up a bizarre robotic contraption called a Giraffe, which looks a lot like a motorised hat-stand. At the base, a PC motherboard running Ubuntu Linux, batteries, motors and wheels lurk, to allow the thing to drive around under its own steam and, presumably, work out where it’s going. At the top of its telescopic aluminium neck, a pivoting flatscreen, camera and speaker allow the Giraffe to show images, to video things, and to talk. Only it won’t do the talking itself, because the Giraffe is supposed to be a mobile, Wi-Fi-enabled, remote video conferencing thingamajig - a head-height automated stand-in for a person who can’t, er, stand there in person. It would allow, for example, your boss to simultaneously stay at home while also sneaking up behind you, seeing what’s on your screen, and then taking you aside for a quiet word in a meeting room. That’s assuming it can move silently - more likely it moves with the stealth of large, wobbling vacuum cleaner. It’ll cost $1800 to $3000 and will no doubt make staff assume their employer has money to flush down the loo.
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