Tech

Charmin’s BRB Bot makes it look like you’re still on Zoom while you take a bathroom break


Charmin’s BRB Bot prototype uses AI to make it look like you’re still on your Zoom call, even when you’ve stepped away. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

We’ve all been there this year: You’re stuck on a never-ending video call when nature calls, but you don’t want to risk bringing your laptop into the loo with you. Toilet paper-maker Charmin has an answer. The BRB Bot is an app prototype that uses machine learning to create your digital twin, swapping your live video feed with an AI-powered version of yourself that can react to meetings in real time, so no one knows when you’ve stepped away. 

As much of the office-based world shifted to remote work during the pandemic last year, people have been seeking out clever ways to get out of video calls, from prerecording responses to playing audio of barking dogs and crying babies as an excuse to end a meeting early. 

The tech behind the BRB Bot is impressive, at least in the demo I saw. Spend about three minutes recording your reactions to prompts like “pretend someone just said something interesting,” “lean in to listen better” and “pretend to laugh,” and say, “I’ll get right on it.” Change a few video and camera settings in your conference app of choice, and turn on the feature whenever you need to duck out of a meeting. 

BRB Bot then uses machine learning, natural language processing and tone analysis to listen to video calls and provide the appropriate reaction in real time, Charmin says. Check out a tutorial video here:

Charmin is no stranger to wacky product concepts — see the Rollbot, a robot that would deliver a fresh toilet paper roll directly to your bathroom, and more recently, NFT toilet paper art appropriately called NFT(P)

The BRB bot is currently beta-only, and there are no plans to release it generally. 


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