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Southern State Community College

Telepresence Devices

What is a Telepresence Device?

Telepresence devices have often been referred to as "skype on wheels." However, telepresence devices (also known as virtual presence robots or remote presence robots) are much more. For example, instead of having a static view of participants (as with skype and other video conferencing applications), the controller of the device is able to control what they wish to see, as opposed to needing someone to point a camera at a particular person.

What devices can I use to control the Telepresence Device?

You will either need a computer with a webcam, a microphone, speakers and a good wifi connection, or an Apple or Android mobile device. Your computer will need to be MAC OSX 10.7 or higher or Windows 7 or higher. You can control the device with a computer by using a mouse, keyboard, or gamepad.

What are the Wi-Fi requirements?

You'll need broadband internet service that supports at least 1 Mbps up and down, but for best results we recommend 3 Mbps up and down. Your current Internet speeds can be monitored on the Call Quality Metrics panel within the Beam app. Connecting to the device with a satellite internet connection is not recommended, you may be able to connect but operating the device may use a large amount of your data.

How do I sign in?

You will need to download the Beam application and use an account to login. This account is provided to you in the confirmation email after filling out the Reservation & Usage Agreement Form.

How do I operate the device?

Once you’ve connected to a device, there are three ways you can drive:

  • Press either the arrow keys or the W, A, S, and D, keys. Simultaneously, holding down the Shift key will increase your speed.
  • Click and hold your mouse button over the bottom video pane. The device will drive in the direction of your mouse cursor. The farther your cursor is from the device’s base, the faster the it will go.
  • Using a compatible gamepad, hold the "live-man" button and move the right joystick.

For more details, view the Telepresence Operation Manual.

How do I display my name or change my status?

Your status is a line of text that appears on the bottom of your video. It can be changed to display your name or used to let your instructor know you have a question at any time by typing into the text box located below your self view.

What should I do when I'm finished using a device? How do I dock it?

In order to maintain its battery charge, the device should be docked at the end of every call. To dock it:

  • Returned the device to the Library, or other designated charging location.
  • Spin the device around and drive it in backwards, so that the cameras are facing out, centered on the white line on the dock.
  • OR when approaching the dock it will appear to have a green outline. On your keyboard hold the P button and the device will park itself.
How do I end a call?

There are two ways:

  • Select the "End Call" button on the far right side of the tool bar.
  • Select the "End Call" button on the top right of the window.

NOTE: If you are not properly docked, a warning message will appear asking you to dock. Do not end the call by clicking on "end call anyway" you must be properly docked first.

Something seems to be wrong with my connection. How can I figure out what's going on?

Place your mouse cursor over the network indicator (two computers linked by a line), located in the self view area on the bottom right, and the Call Quality Metrics panel will appear. This panel shows your bandwidth, latency, packet loss, and WiFi signal statistics. Text displayed in red signifies a value that is below the minimum considered necessary for a good call experience.

Can the device be taken outside?

The Telepresence Devices are for indoor use only, with the exception of the breezeway on Central Campus. (You will have to request assistance crossing the breezeway)

When I drive, what do the blue lines in the bottom camera view mean?

The lines trace the path that the device will follow when you drive it. The animated white segments indicate the speed with which it will move.

The screen turns grey or there is a loss of connection. How do I fix this?

This is the result of having a slow internet connection. Make sure you have at least 1Mbps upload and download, but 3Mbps is recommended. If you become disconnected from the device simply select reconnect.

How do I know how loud I am?

There are two ways to gauge your volume to locals:

  • Look at the mic level indicator, located in the self view area on the bottom right. For a normal office environment, you want it to be in the middle of the range (approximately 3 segments).
  • Ask a local person (i.e. someone who is nearby to the device).
Can I zoom the cameras?

Yes. You can zoom the top camera in three ways:

  • Double-click in the video image.
  • Use your mouse's scroll wheel over the image.
  • Drag the zoom slider in the tool bar up or down to zoom in or out. Click the button to go reset the zoom level to 0.

You cannot zoom the Navigation (bottom) camera.

Is there a way for me to change where the top camera is pointing?

Yes. You can pan and tilt the top camera view by clicking on it and dragging it.

Can I drive with the camera view zoomed or panned?

Sorry, no. It is difficult to drive safely this way. The camera will automatically reset once you start driving.

I feel like I'm driving too quickly or too slowly. Can I change this?

Yes. Located on the bottom of your navigation camera view is a slider which adjusts you driving speed. If this control is not shown, you can re-enable it by going to Options>Advanced and unchecking "hide driving speed controls".

Can I share my computer screen with others?

Yes! There is a screen sharing button located on your call toolbar. Clicking on it will show you a menu with all of your active windows and desktops. Clicking on any of these items will start the screen-sharing process. To end a screen sharing session, simply select either the "End Screen Sharing Button" on the toolbar or the "End Screen Sharing Button" on the top right corner of the main camera view.

How do I set and change my status?

Your status is a line of text that appears on the bottom of your video. It can be changed at any time by typing into the text box located below your self view.

How can I see how much battery life I have remaining?

There is a battery icon located above your self view showing how much time remains on your battery. The system will also notify you when the battery has 30 minutes remaining and again when there are only 5 minutes remaining.

Is there a quick way for me get help with the Beam software?

Yes, there is a help mode that can be accessed by pressing the "?" key on your keyboard.

Do any keyboard shortcuts exist for the Beam software?

Yes, there are keyboard shortcuts for many of the features of the Beam application. For a list of these shortcuts, you can hold down the F12 key on your keyboard.