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Robot Turns Heads At Sioux Falls Convention

October 7, 2013, 6:12 PM by Sammi Bjelland

Robot Turns Heads At Sioux Falls Convention

The Sioux Falls Convention Center is full of activity as it plays host to the "Small Markets Meetings Conference." Cities from around the U.S. have six minutes to convince different organizations to come to their area to hold events.

But one man from Pennsylvania is using technology to attend the event, from thousands of miles away.

More than 100 travel planners from 35 states have come to Sioux Falls to find out where they should bring their conferences and meetings. While this meeting is held all over the country each year, there is something special about this one.

"Sioux Falls is the first city, and this is the first conference, to actually have a delegate attend the travel conference on remote presence technology," Charlie Presley with the Small Market Meetings Conference said.

"I don't think it will ever replace the one-on-one meetings. But certainly there are applications that for me to be sitting in my office in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, communicating one-on-one with potential meeting planners thousands of miles away is a pretty neat concept," Norris Flowers, President of the Gettysburg, Penn. Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said.

Don't left all this hardware fool you; Flowers says he feels just as much a part of the action using his iPad and desktop computer to control this remote robot in Sioux Falls.

"I can see everything. I can move 360 degrees.  I can move forward, backward and go right up to one of the booths and actually adjust the height of this and be on their level. And hear perfectly and they can certainly hear me," Flowers said.

"He's still talking to the people. He's still getting the information that he needs. It's just that he can't be here physically," Teri Schmidt with Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau said.

Though the unusual robot salesman was turning heads today, Flowers says he does believe this technology will catch on.

"For future applications, I think it's amazing because I can multitask. Like for example, right now, in my office I'm working on budget for next year. And yet can still be able to communicate with people in Sioux Falls," Flowers said.

Schmidt says she will be looking into the robot technology for the Sioux Falls area in the near future.

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