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What is Bavvel?
Bavvel is a service that facilitates crowd-sourced, roaming telepresence. It allows you to be present effectively at a remote location without being there physically. It does this by connecting you with someone at the remote location — a "proxy", who will send you a real-time video stream from their smartphone or body camera, and who is willing to follow your orders in real time.
What are examples of I how might use Bavvel?
Bavvel could help you:
  • Attend your little sister's graduation, when you're out of town.

  • Visit the out-of-state university that you're thinking of attending, without your having to get on an airplane.

  • Inspect the out-of-town real estate that you're considering, while at home in your pajamas.

  • Tour the neighborhood that you're thinking of moving to, even though you're three states away.

  • Scout a location for a movie, TV show, or corporate event without having to travel.

  • Go grocery shopping, when you're stuck in bed with the flu.

  • Be the first reporter on the scene of a breaking news event, even though you're still at your TV station.

  • Attend your niece's wedding, while you attend to business in another country.

  • Get to that out-of-state high school reunion that you don't have time to travel to.

  • Tour your company's out-of-town construction site from the comfort of your office.

  • Check out the art gallery on the other side of town, while dining at home.

  • Watch your son's little league game, while you're out of town on business.

  • See your daughter's school play, when you're thousands of miles away.

  • See if your teenagers are throwing a wild party in your house, while you vacation in Europe.

  • Attend church services, without giving fellow parishioners your cold.

  • Tour California with your entire family, using your big-screen TV in your Midwest living room.

  • Watch your child being born, while you're stationed overseas.

  • Walk the dog you left at home, even though you're in another country.

  • Attend a trade convention without the hassle and expense of travel.

  • Take care of errands without being bothered by paparazzi or intrusive fans.

  • Join your friends for dinner, even though you're in bed with a broken leg.

  • Share activities in San Francisco with your boyfriend, even though he's in New York and you're in Washington D.C.

How does it work?
Suppose that you're in New York, and you have 3 hours to make a decision about a house in Los Angeles that you're thinking about buying. You'd like to independently inspect the house and tour its neighborhood. But you can't get to L.A. before the deadline. Bavvel could help. Here are the steps you'd take.
  1. Log into bavvel.com or launch your Bavvel smartphone app.

  2. Search for a proxy in a specified area of Los Angeles, who is currently available for an on-demand mission that will last up to 3 hours.

  3. Select a proxy from the map that appears, which shows the current locations of available proxies in the relevant section of Los Angeles.

  4. Choose your privacy setting, which determines whether your proxy can see or hear you.

  5. Observe the price for your mission, and enter your redemption code or credit card information (if it's not already on file). [You won't be charged until your mission ends.]

  6. Send the proxy a request for their services by clicking a button.

  7. Begin receiving your proxy's video stream, shortly after they accept your mission. [If they do not accept, return to step 3.]

  8. Run your mission. Command your proxy in any the following ways.

    • Speak to them (if your privacy setting allows this).

    • Send them text messages through the Bavvel system.

    • Use the motion control and camera pan buttons, which your proxy hears as short messages, such as "walk forward", "turn right", "pan up", or "stop".

    • Show them maps, diagrams or other visual information (if your privacy setting allows this)

    In this example you would use your proxy to inspect the house and explore its neighborhood. You would see what your proxy sees, hear what she hears, control where she goes, what she does, and what she says.

  9. End your mission by clicking a button. You will be charged according to the actual duration of your mission.

  10. Rate your proxy.

How much does Bavvel cost?
It costs nothing to join, and the app is free. You are only charged, when you use a proxy. The current standard rate to use a proxy for an on-demand mission is $33.00 per hour, which includes Bavvel's service fee. For planned missions, a proxy sets their own rate. For example, a proxy who's a medical expert will generally cost more than a proxy who isn't. In lieu of using money to rent a proxy, you may also do so by serving as a volunteer proxy. Currently, you will gain 1/2 hour of proxy rental privileges for each hour that you serve as a volunteer proxy.
Proxy? On-demand mission? Can you please explain Bavvel's terminology?
proxy — a person who wears a camera, sends you the camera's video stream, and is willing to obey your commands in real time.

mission — the objective that you are using your proxy to accomplish, e.g. attending a graduation ceremony, inspecting a piece of real estate, or touring the Santa Monica pier.

on-demand mission — a mission that you wish to begin immediately.

planned mission — a mission that you wish to begin at some time in the future.

controller — the person commanding a proxy.

free agent — someone who uses his Bavvel app to upload images and video clips to Bavvel's servers in exchange for royalties.
Can I select my proxy's characteristics, such as age, sex, and height?
Yes. You would select a proxy whose characteristics, as listed in their profile, suit your mission's needs.
Do I need to register with Bavvel to use a proxy?
Yes. It's free to sign up.
In which cities are proxies currently available?
Currently, proxies are only available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. However, we plan to add many more Bavvel destinations soon.
Do I have to use Bavvel's video streaming app to run my mission?
Yes. It this the only way of reliably ascertaining your mission's duration, which determines what you will be charged and what your proxy will be paid.  [It is nonetheless possible to use another streaming app. However, there are risks. If, for example, you are charged for a 1-hour mission, but your proxy only works for 10 minutes, Bavvel has no way in this case of limiting your charge to that corresponding to 10 minutes.]
Will the video streams for my mission be recorded?
Not unless you select the "shared mode" option. Normally, your proxy’s video stream is not recorded and is entirely private. However, if you select the shared mode, your proxy’s live video will be viewable (with a slight delay) to a limited number of invitees (currently 25). The recorded video will be posted to your section of our site and can be viewed by anyone who to whom you send its web address (URL).
Can my live video stream be viewed on Twitter or Facebook?
No. We currently support live narrowcasting only. However, you may post on Twitter and Facebook the link to the posted recording of your video, which is automatically placed on your video page on Bavvel.com. This requires your proxy to have streamed the video in shared mode.
Can I control more than one proxy on the same mission?
Yes. Although currently, you would need to use separate browser tabs to view the separate video feeds of the proxies under your control. This would be more easily accomplished on the desktop than in the app.
Can I be a controller, a proxy, and a free agent?
Yes. You may assume any combination of roles, or all three. Just sign up again for the other roles. You are free to use the same email address.
What if my friend want’s to be my proxy for nothing. How can I use your system and not pay her?
Arrange for a planned mission. The proxies set their own rate for these. Have her set her pay rate to $0 per hour. Alternatively, your friend can sign up as an unpaid volunteer. Or, if she's already signed up as a proxy, she can edit her profile to become such a volunteer.
What happens if my proxy is uncooperative or otherwise unsuitable, or if there are technical problems?
You should terminate your mission as soon as you become aware the problem. Missions terminated within the first 3 minutes are free. After 3 minutes, you will be charged for the actual duration of your mission. Be sure to rate your proxy appropriately. Please be advised that controllers who have often or unreasonably terminated missions might be rated poorly by their proxies.
Are there any limits on what I can command a proxy to do?
Yes. Proxies will not follow any command that is illegal, immoral, unsafe, or otherwise inappropriate. On receiving such a command a proxy may prematurely terminate your mission and rate you poorly. You will be charged for the actual duration of the mission.
Are there any restrictions on proxies?
Yes. Proxies must be at least 18 years of age and must be legally eligible for employment in their region. Moreover, proxies are expected, irrespective of controller commands, to refrain from wearing their body cameras (or smartphone cameras) in locations where these are unwelcome, inappropriate, or forbidden by law.
Can I request that my proxy bring special equipment or possess special knowledge or skills?
Yes. However, such requests are better suited for planned missions than for on-demand missions. For a planned mission, you would normally use our advanced search to find a proxy with suitable attributes. On-demand missions, by contrast, are limited to the proxies that happen to be available at a particular moment near a particular place. You may nonetheless attach a short message to your on-demand mission request to a prospective proxy, e.g. "You must be good with dogs".
How will my proxy communicate with me during a mission?
By speaking. You will be able to hear your proxy while their video stream is active. Your proxy can also communicate silently, by writing notes that you can see in their video stream.
Do the persons with whom my proxy interacts have to see my face and hear my voice?
No. You can set your privacy mode so that you are either 1) seen and heard, 2) heard only, or 3) neither. In the third case, you communicate with your proxy through in-app text messages that your proxy hears as a synthetic voice.
Can the people near my proxy hear the commands that I send?
No. Your proxy will be wearing earbuds. Only your proxy will hear your commands. When you want be heard by others, your proxy will put your (real or synthetic) voice on speaker phone.
Will my proxy know my true identity.
No. Your proxy will know you only by your chosen user name. You also have the option of preventing your proxy from hearing or seeing you. In this case you would communicate with your proxy solely through in-app text messages, camera-pan buttons, and motion-control buttons.