Mercedes Uses Telepresence for Live Peeks at Auto Show

Mercedes-Benz of North America Inc. is using a Web cam for live interactive marketing of its new models at the 1998 New York Auto Show.

Mercedes said it is using Perceptual Robotics Inc.’s “Telepresence” technology.

Through April 19, Internet users can visit www.MBUSA.com or www.perceptualrobotics.com and control a telerobotic snapshot camera to see the newest Mercedes-Benz automobiles, including the CLK320 Cabriolet which makes its North American debut at the auto show.

Perceptual Robotics products allow Web site visitors to use a mouse to steer the camera and then zoom in on details of the cars. Users can also snap their own live online pictures. The Telepresence system can assemble 360 degree panoramas for viewing as well.

Mercedes said it previously tested the PRI system at the 1998 Chicago Auto Show and had thousands of visitors come to its display via the Internet.

“You feel like you’re actually at the Auto Show,” said Mike Canavan, new media technical specialist at Mercedes-Benz of North America. “It’s the best way to be there if you live far away and can’t attend the show, or if you want to revisit the show.”

“This software is a tremendous marketing tool for an automobile manufacturer,” said Paul Cooper, president & CEO of Perceptual Robotics. “The vivid and engaging experience of using PRI’s interactive cameras to look at a vehicle, auto show, or other interesting venue lets a car company establish a unique bond with its customers.”

Chicago-based PRI provides its Telepresence software as part of an integrated turnkey system, which includes a camera, mounted on a computer-controlled, pan-tilt motor that directs and aims the camera, and a computer server. Telepresence software products include iCam, iCaster, iPanorama and iDirector.

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