In these very different days, all companies are scrambling to do work in more unusual ways than before.
One of them is Chicago-based Dynamism, a large 3D print reseller. The company has quite a large portfolio of vendors and equipment, including:
They also offer Glowforge laser cutters and a selection of 3D scanning equipment from Einscan.
As most resellers do, Dynamism also offers education, support and materials for all of the above equipment.
They also have a physical showroom where much of the equipment is on display for visitors to inspect and raise questions. Seeing machines in person is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the equipment and how it could work for your application.
But there’s a problem with that approach, as you can probably guess: no one is going to be visiting Dynamism’s storefront for a while. The company puzzled over how to handle the situation and came up with a very unique solution.
It turns out they just happen to be resellers of equipment from Double Robotics, a US-based maker of telepresence robots. I’ve seen these before and they’re extremely interesting.
The robot is essentially an iPad on wheels. An extendable pole connects the panel to the wheels and operates via WiFi. A remote user can connect to the robot and their face appears on the robot’s screen for local folks to see. The remote user can then “drive” the robot around by simply pressing some keys. It’s even possible to raise or lower the pole remotely.
Dynamism Remote Showroom
Dynamism thought to link the robot and 3D printing to create a kind of virtual remote showroom, something they’ve been thinking about for quite a while.
The idea is that clients and prospects could connect to the robot and “stroll” around the showroom to see different 3D printing equipment. A local Dynamism staffer would be there to answer questions.
I was privileged to give the virtual showroom a test, and it turned out I was the very first person through, so some of the kinks were not worked out yet.
Nevertheless, it was a very interesting experience. After quickly learning the amount of network lag to drive the robot it became fairly straightforward to zoom around the room. I don’t think I crashed into anyone or anything, but it’s possible my Dynamism guide Rob Schick was being polite.
On display in the room were models from Rize Raise3D, Ultimaker and others. Some were running and it was possible to see them in operation, although not in the finest detail.
Optimizing The Virtual Showroom Experience
One thing I immediately noticed was that the equipment probably needs some largish signs to allow those unfamiliar with the models to quickly identify exactly what they are looking at. Schick said this was one of the optimizations they are considering.
Another idea they are kicking around is to set up the showroom in a kind of tour format. Then a visitor could travel through the sequence of machines and not miss anything. I liken this concept to an IKEA, where you must follow the line to get through the store.
As of this moment, only one visitor can connect to the robot at a time, but Dynamism is working with Double Robotics to see if there is a way to have additional visitors “tag along” using the system.
Dynamism says they should be launching this virtual showroom to the public soon.
Once they are up and running, they could consider using the facility for additional functions beyond sales. For example, it would be possible to show a buyer how to perform simple operations or maintenance on a machine; the buyer would effectively be “looking over the shoulder” to learn how to do things.
Another opportunity exists for educational functions, but that would be more complex.
If you’re looking for a professional 3D printer and can’t get out, this might be a system for you.