This project came about because at Eucalyptus, we have some remote workers who are also hackers. Most of the dev team is in Santa Barbara and so it would be nice to have other means to communicate with that team while we are working remotely. Telepresence seemed like a great idea. There are a lot of robot product and projects toward this goal, but the products are costly and most projects are either not what we're looking for, or simple enough that we could simply build it ourselves.
Towards this end, we settled on a common formula, namely a netbook and iRobot Create. Johnny Lee blogged about one he'd done and there are some other examples as well. We're taking an open approach with our solution. We're using Linux, a free version of Skype, Java and easily obtained hardware.