- Flickr/Tim Caynes / ChameleonMask: Embodied Physical and Social Telepresence using human surrogates / @rkmt / @EmTechAsia / @willknight
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A lot of interest in technological fields in Japan lately has stemmed from the integration of augmented reality, virtual reality, and the use of avatars--whether that be to spruce up a game of table tennis or to print out the resume of your future anime self. Introduction to new developments in that regard at this week's MIT Tech Review’s EmTech (Emerging Technology) Asia conference is turning heads, however, as it showed off what is being referred to by some as “Human Uber", and let's just say the aesthetic is certainly attention-grabbing.
Called ChameleonMask, the tech is based around attaching a camera and video display to a surrogate human to display the face of a remote user, as well as transmit their voice. As the video below explains, the concept has been realized before via surrogate robots and devices, but Jun Rekimoto (Tokyo University professor and AR/VR researcher), says that their "“...pilot study confirmed that people could regard the masked person as a right person.”
So you might be wondering about the practical and commercial uses of such technology. While you might comically want to use one for missing a friend's birthday or needing to borrow a friend when you're home hungover from work, the official page has a few suggestions. A few hypothesized situations include projecting one's visual for a faraway business presentation, creating a virtual 3D anime character or cosplay, and a "delivery" system for Japanese idol units to travel the whole country with ease. You can see these situations play out in a video below.
While the photos are certainly funny and creepy to an extent, the personable aspect the technology seems to be targeting certainly has some merit and perhaps different avenues for use that go beyond the capability of a surrogate robot. Although the most practical application seems to be business related functions, there's already some observable appeal in the cosplay and idol world given what's suggested on ChamelonMask's homepage. Either way, it sounds like sex robots are old news and the future can focus on delivering humans to one another. Scroll down to the video below to see some of these situations play out.