Reno attorney uses BEAM robotic technology for videoconferencing
During Thanksgiving a couple years ago, Gloria Petroni’s family was having a get-together at Lake Tahoe.
Despite other commitments, Petroni was able to be part of the festivities thanks to her daughter’s BEAM remote presence robot.
“Although I wasn’t able to attend; I still was able to look into their eyes and say ‘hi,’” Petroni said.
She was so enamored with the device that she had to have one for herself. She found one on Amazon for less than $2,000.
Petroni, an attorney and owner of her own family law and estate planning practice, Petroni Law Group in Reno, quickly saw that the BEAM robot could be beneficial to her business.
BEAM (an acronym for Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics) is a slender robot that features a monitor usually about 10 inches that allows for videoconferencing with two parties in different settings. The device is set on wheels that can easily maneuver on its own around a room or space.
The BEAM device can be commanded from her computer. It runs on a battery and is equipped with its own charging station for up to two hours of uninterrupted use.
Petroni’s device, which she nicknamed “Einstein,” is manufactured by Suitable Technologies, a company headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. Its website at https://suitabletech.com/beampro/, also advertises an advanced model called BEAMPro.
The attorney set up a link on her computer so clients could access the BEAM system. (She doesn’t charge extra for the service.)
Many of her clients are outside of Reno; in areas including Yerington, Fallon and Incline Village. The device saves them the cost of driving to and from Petroni’s office. She added that some of them are also aging, making traveling even more difficult.
Another advantage she explained is it provides greater interpersonal communication since both her and her clients can still see each other face-to-face.
“Simply by the fact they can see me and that I can look into their eyes, it makes my clients feel more comfortable with me even if we’re in different places,” she said.
BEAM also can be beneficial in some delicate family law situations, like when a husband and wife are filing for divorce and frankly don’t want to be in the presence of one another. Both parties can communicate with Petroni in different rooms through BEAM.
She admits at first clients tended to be lukewarm about using the technology, but after seeing how it works, have since been very responsive to using it.
BEAM also provides many features besides videoconferencing. The attorney can share important legal documents with clients. She added that the link is safe and secure for clients to use.
She is contemplating adding other features with the device in the future, including allowing clients to schedule appointments.
Petroni has promoted BEAM with various colleagues insisting it can have similar impacts in their own practices, but has generally been met with skepticism.
“They seem to want to wait awhile and see how it goes first,” she said.
Still, Petroni sees the robot technology as a new wave of future.
“I would definitely use it over my phone,” she said. “Pretty soon, I think it will be just like using a phone.”
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.