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Autonomous Telepresence Research

Sparky 1

©1996 Marque Cornblatt
two-way wireless video, electronics,
motors, batteries

Sparky was first developed in 1996 as a mobile alternative to room-based solutions, and has been continuously modified and upgraded ever since. The early version of the robot used 2 sets of low-powered video transmission (similar to a baby monitor) and RC toy airplane controls to create a live face-to-face video interaction on a rolling chassis.

The iSparky version of the robot takes full advantage of the advances in Internet and wireless technologies to enable control of the robot from anywhere in the world, allowing Sparky to fulfill its promise of realtime autonomous telepresence.

The original Sparky was featured on Modern Marvels "Telephone" episode

Autonomous Telepresence

The term “Autonomous Telepresence” was coined to describe Sparky’s combination of face-to-face video conferencing and true wireless mobility. It’s the first device of it’s kind to deliver a realtime, video chat experience while allowing the robot chassis to be controlled from a remote location. By making the remote operator’s face the central focus of the robot, it creates an immediate and visceral connection between the robot and any people surrounding it.

Sparky creates interactivity in two distinct ways. First, the unique and mysterious nature of the technology serves as an invitation for all types of people to approach and engage the robot, so it can function very effectively as an outreach technology and as a social “ice breaker” in almost any live situataion.

Secondly, remote access and control of the robot via the Internet allows for a new kind of social connection and interactivity to be available to those people who are unable for any reason to be physically present at a live event – reducing the physical and spacial distances between people and enabling a new kind of hybrid social interaction

Sparky 2.0

©2007 Marque Cornblatt
WiFi, Mac Mini, custom software and hardware,
motors, batteries


The current Sparky 'bot cost less than $1000 and is ideal for work, home and office.

We will be realeasing complete plans, details and links to the app soon,
so check back here for updates..

The most recent version of the Sparky project uses an iPad 2 with our custom control app and a Roomba vacuum to create an inexpensive easy to build, App-based solution to mobile telepresence.

©2010 Marque Cornblatt
iPad, Roomba, custom app, speaker

© 1987 - 2012 Marque Cornblatt