April 12, 2017
This article is not about the practicality of virtual lemonade. It is about getting a small taste of a society-changing technology--virtual presence. Virtual presence, or telepresence is a set of technologies which allow you feel as if you were somewhere you want to be, while a person at the location would get the feeling you were there. But hold onto your sense organs, the term telepresence is more accurate. Virtual presence, like over-hyped virtual reality, will never feel like the real thing. That doesn’t mean it won’t offer some awesome benefits.
Education is one obvious application of a virtual presence. This type of learning is already in play, using robot avatars. Work can be accomplished the same way, and I can’t imagine a better way to train a robot to take your job, than from the inside of one.
Robotic avatars are being used to put a virtual person in situations that are too dangerous for humans to go, like radioactive areas. Remote surgery allows the expertise of specialized surgeons to be available to patients worldwide. Pressure sensors in the robots can provide haptic feedback to the user, so it’s not a one-way connection.
Another use for telepresence is to allow a person to be in many places at once. The technology has been used frequently in entertainment media.
Many types of training could be performed remotely, with real-time 3D capture and holographic projection of your physical being.
Virtual presence is not limited to people and pets. Non-living things could be ‘transported’ as well. Tasting a new flavor of lemonade? Sure. How about smelling what your mom’s cooking or feeling the texture of clothing you are considering purchasing online? Those types of virtual technologies are being developed now and will benefit from advances in nanotechnology.
Virtual presence technology has many hurdles to overcome, but many experts feel a virtual world is our final destination.
Article by Jack Hanson