In my travels around the world with the Temi robot, I have had some incredibly emotional experiences where I got to see firsthand the power of its technology. In Melbourne, Australia, I saw how using the robot expanded children’s vision of what’s possible with technology at a robot conference for kids. In rural Kentucky in the nation’s largest respiratory center, I saw how Temi could connect long-term patients with their family members at a distance. In classrooms in Trenton and the Bronx, I saw how Temi could change education for the better. I will never forget these special moments, but I never could have guessed that one of my most emotional experiences with Temi would have occurred within the four walls of my apartment in Boston at the end of a Friday in July.
A week before that Friday, I made a seven hour drive to a Senior Living community in Southern New Jersey by the name of Cambridge Rehabilitation & Senior Living. There, I hand-delivered a Temi robot and installed it within their community. This was my first time in a Senior Living Community and I was absolutely thrilled to be able to be back in the field to get a chance to see the impact of Temi firsthand. The installation went very well and I headed back to Boston.
During a meeting the following week, I was trying to figure out how we could provide the best possible Temi experience for the residents at Cambridge when it hit me: Robot Concert. I thought about how exciting it could be to play live music for the residents at the community through Temi’s telepresence feature - basically, Temi would roam the halls as I played piano and guitar for the residents and staff. After presenting the idea to the Team at Cambridge on a Wednesday and receiving their approval, I began practicing for the event, which was to take place just two days later.
I’ve been playing instruments my whole life, but I’ve never done a solo performance before, let alone a performance through a robot. After further digging, only one other person in history had performed a live concert with a robot - so it’s safe to say I was a bit nervous. In preparation, I put together a collection of 50 minutes worth of music where I would cycle between playing guitar and piano as Temi travelled from room to room within the community. Friday quickly arrived and while my nervousness continued to grow, only one thing was on my mind: I wanted to do everything I could to cheer up the residents on the other end of the video call. Isolation has always existed in Senior Living communities, but the pandemic has significantly amplified the disconnection that residents feel from their loved ones and each other. This completely drove me to have the singular focus of creating a special moment for them using music as a tool to bring people together and spread joy, positivity, and love.
The time of the Robot Concert arrived and I had the stage set. I video called into their robot and began to roam the halls playing live music for the residents. As I was performing, I could see the smiles of the residents and that some of them were dancing along. It was incredibly moving and I was overcome with emotion for the entirety of the hour-long concert. I was truly able to feel a connection with the residents, even if it was for a moment, through the power of music. There were many times during the concert where it felt like I was in the same room with them.
Art and technology go hand-in-hand, and the more that we can combine the two, the more we will be able to foster a deeper connection between two people at a distance, especially during these challenging times. It was a huge honor to be able to share this historic moment with the incredible residents living in Cambridge Rehabilitation & Senior Living.
Click here to view Raw Footage from the concert.