Dear Davidson
Dear Davidson Book
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Are you not looking forward to showing up for a social event or work?

Don’t you wish you could just stay in bed, but still see what was going on there?

Good news! I’m here to tell you that all this is possible with the ‘Human Uber’.

Confused? Don’t worry, Neue (@whatsneue) has got you covered.

(Photos courtesy of Flickr/rkmt, Video courtesy of Association for Computing Machinery)

Using real humans as surrogates

There’s an invention called ‘ChameleonMask’, a telepresence system that displays a remote user’s face on another user’s face.

Whereas most telepresence systems are designed to provide the remote user with an existence via a teleoperated robot, the system uses a real human as a surrogate for the remote user.

This is accomplished by the surrogate user wearing a mask-shaped display that shows the remote user’s live face, and a voice channel transmitting the remote user’s voice. The surrogate user mimics the remote user by following the remote user’s directions.

The idea was launched at the MIT Tech Review’s EM conference in Singapore earlier this year.

The entire project was the brainchild of creators, Jun Rekimoto and Kana Misawa, who are specialists in augmented reality and virtual reality affiliated with Sony.

In contrast, the ChameleonMask appears to give a more complete experience, with the screen being carried around by a person who can also be dressed the same as the user might be. The experience is much better than those robots, its creators claim.

Fans of the long-running TV sitcom ‘Modern Family’ may recall an episode, in which Phil Dunphy uses a telepresence robot to be ‘present’ with his family back home (see photo below).

Over at LiveScience, Brandon Specktor, perfectly summed up what this invention was – “It’s like Skype, but with a paid stranger wearing your face over his face!”

Similar telepresence devices have existed for more than a decade, primarily in the form of roving robots that can be controlled by remote users. Such robo-surrogates have been used to attend meetings, conduct surgery and even help active-duty military members meet their newborn children from afar. The ChameleonMask, however, is the first device to ditch the droids in favor of a human labourer.

What do you think?

This all sounds very fascinating. But I have some concerns about this.

Are you telling me that I’m living in a time when mankind would prefer to OUTSOURCE its most basic needs (i.e. maintaining human connections)?

Are we slowly (but surely) picking away at what it means to be human?

If we are, then I’m really sorry for humankind.

What are your thoughts about this? Neue would love to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments sections below or reach our to us via social media.