Owl Labs is an IoT-focused startup backed by Playground, the VC fund and design studio headed up by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. Owl Labs’ first product, now available in the UK after launching in the US and expanding into Canada last year, is the Meeting Owl, a 360-degree camera, microphone array, and speaker combo that’s designed to improve the videoconferencing experience for remote workers. It does this by offering a panoramic view of the remote location and using clever robotics firmware to dynamically highlight different participants as they talk.

According to Owl Labs’ research, 52 percent of employees work remotely at least once a week, with sales/business development, product engineering, marketing, and IT/operations departments leading the way. Small companies are twice as likely to hire full-time remote employees, and companies that support remote work have 25 percent lower employee turnover than those that don’t. Although remote working undoubtedly improves work/life balance, there are drawbacks — chiefly staying ‘in the loop’ with office-based developments. Brainstorming sessions are the most challenging to follow when attended remotely, according to Owl Labs.

A separate UK-based study found that 82 percent of employees waste up to five hours a week on pointless meetings, 77 percent have a hard time staying engaged when joining an internal work meeting remotely, and 53 percent feel their companies aren’t doing enough to meet the needs of modern day and flexible remote working.

It would seem, then, that there’s plenty of pent-up demand for a product like…

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