This woman bought an iPhone via telepresence robot

Apple Store employees weren't fazed at all

It might have been the most unusual customer to ever appear at Apple's Palo Alto store, but not entirely out of place in the heart of Silicon Valley. On Friday morning, among the hundreds who queued for the iPhone 6S to go on sale, it was not human, not animal, but machine.

Brianna Lempesis in San Diego was inside the machine, a Beam telepresence robot that's capable of trundling around on wheels and videoconferencing with anyone it meets.

IPhone 6S launch in Palo Alto Martyn Williams

A telepresence robot trundles into Apple's Palo Alto store in the hopes of buying an iPhone 6S on launch day, Sept. 25, 2015.

Lempesis works for Suitable Technologies, the company that sells the robot, and her presence in line at Palo Alto was more to generate publicity for the product than anything else.

But it worked. Not only did Lempesis manage to get interviewed by numerous local TV crews but Apple also entertained this unusual way of buying an iPhone.

Once inside the store, she was able to communicate with an Apple employee and go through the entire purchase procedure. It turned out some money had been stashed inside a rear panel of the robot and an Apple employee retrieved it upon instruction.

In addition to the iPhone itself, the robot was clearly the star of the launch and was pursued by cameras as it navigated the store and came back outside.

IPhone 6S launch in Palo Alto Martyn Williams

Brianna Lempesis is seen through a telepresence robot outside Apple's Palo Alto store on Sept. 25, 2015.

Lempesis told reporters that she had been waiting since Thursday at 10 a.m. to make the purchase.

After the purchase, the iPhone was put into a bag and placed onto a hook on the side of the robot, making it easy pickings for a thief -- but Lempesis said she isn't worried.

"I don't think anyone will [steal it]," she said. "I really think people are better than that and so far that's what I've experienced.

The robot isn't a stranger to Palo Alto. The company has a store on University Avenue, a short walk from the Apple Store, and robots can often be seen on the street trying to engage passersby in chit-chat.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?