Being in two places at the same time

By Ross Dawson on July 22, 2006 | Permalink

I really like this. A Japanese researcher has created a lifelike doppelganger robot of himself, which he uses to do lectures at a university an hour’s drive away from his home, thus saving himself the commute. He is the live voice of the robot, and can see through its eyes. Pickups on his mouth and lips control the movement of the robot’s mouth while it is speaking. Apparently the robot looks very human – certainly the photos are hard to pick as a machine (though the machine does look less friendly than the man). While the cost of creating this kind of robot will never get very low, as every one must be custom-made, the implications are staggering. If the robot really is good, this is a big step beyond videoconferencing, and arguably even teleimmersion. Robot duplicates could be put on airplanes in lieu of people to go to distant meetings, for example. I will definitely explore the possibility of using one of these for keynote speeches I’m asked to deliver in distant lands, though I suspect it will be a good while before I have a duplicate of myself, unfortunately. Who hasn’t dreamed of being in two places at the same time?

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