×

Technology roams the halls at Franklin Pierce

  • Above: FPU graduate assistant Madison Earle explains Max to a student in the library. Left: Download the Aurasma app and point your phone at the raven icons across the FPU campus for a number of interactive videos. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Above: FPU graduate assistant Madison Earle explains Max to a student in the library. Left: Download the Aurasma app and point your phone at the raven icons across the FPU campus for a number of interactive videos. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
*Archive Article*
Franklin Pierce University’s newest big man on campus isn’t all that big, he’s bean-pole skinny. Actually, he isn’t even a man: he’s a robot.

Max, named after former presidential press secretary and FPU Trustee Max Marlin Fitzwater, is the The Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication’s newest technological tool, a telecommunications robot that is transforming how outside forces communicate with the campus.

“The reaction to Max wheeling around campus is uniformly fun,” said Dr. Kristen Nevious, director of the Fitzwater Center for Communication. “Max is going to help us build fan loyalty and open up a number of great opportunities for Franklin Pierce.”

Max, who was built by Double Robotics of Sunnyvale, California, features a self-balancing two-wheel base — similar to a Segway — that allows for him to navigate throughout campus. His body consists of a metal pole that can expand and contract to account for height differentials. His face is an iPad, which syncs up with Double’s app, and allows for video-calling, similar to Facetime or Skype.

The technology allows for someone to call into the Double app and control Max through their phone, tablet, or computer.

“Say, for example, President Card was out of town on a business trip, but he wanted to attend a football game on campus,” said Nevious. “President Card could control Max so that he not only could watch the game, but he could navigate around the field and talk to fans and players.”

The robot was loaned to Nevious through Double Robotics at a Campus Technology Fair over the summer in Boston. Nevious said Max was given to her for an unspecified amount of time, but the more she uses it on campus, the longer she is allowed to keep it.

Nevious said that the possibilities are endless for Max. He is used in a class when a guest speaker can’t physically attend. Nevious also said Max has been a huge help in communicating with the Boston Herald, who FPU has partnered with for the upcoming presidential election.

“The plan is to take Max to the New Hampshire primary,” said Nevious. “The Boston Herald has used Max to speak to my polling class. We could use Skype for these discussions, but Max is more mobile.”

If Nevious has her way, a robot will become a permanent part of FPU campus and culture. After Max’s lending period is over, Nevious hopes that a new robot can be donated or purchased for the campus. The Fitzwater Center for Communication already has an iPad, which is not included with the purchase of the robot. The total purchase cost of the robot, including warranty, audio kit, and travel case, runs $3,596.

“Max is a great tool for the campus,” said Nevious. “Who knows, maybe if we have Max stick around, there will be no more snow or sick days for my classes.”



Aurasma

Max is not the only new piece of technology being utilized in the Fitzwater Center for Communication, according to Nevious. The Center has been working with a phone app — Aurasma — to create multimedia masterpieces to adorn the hallways.

If you download the app and follow the Center, take a stroll through the hallways. Any place where you see a picture of a raven is an eligible location to see some magic.

Point the phone at the raven, let the app focus in, and Voila! A multimedia video or slideshow pops up on your screen.

“The app allows for you to overlay a video or slideshow,” said Nevious.

An example would be right across from Dr. Nevious’ office. There is a photo of Marlin Fitzwater where if you use the app, the name plate of the photo will turn into a video on your phone screen, showing a video of Fitzwater explaining what was happening in the photo.

“We think there are a lot of great applications for this app,” said Nevious. “It’s like a more interactive version of an audio-guided museum.”



Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.