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You might soon be able to ‘Human Uber’ a surrogate of yourself to boring meetings and family get-togethers


Can’t make a meeting in person? Soon you might be able to send your human surrogate.

ChameleonMask is a new telepresence system in testing that sends people in your stead rather than one of those disorienting two-wheel, screen-carrying robots. The system was presented at this week's EmTech Asia conference as a theoretical “human Uber.”

The surrogates, which its researchers call “surprisingly natural,” wear screened masks that projects the face and voice of the person they are standing in for.

Integrated into the mask are a camera and a VR headset that allow the surrogate to see around them. The remote user, parked at a computer, shares the same view and can communicate to the surrogate through typed commands or visually captured gestures.

The more-than-three-year-old project was created by Sony researcher and University of Tokyo professor Jun Rekimoto. During tests that included ChameleonMask surrogates appearing for remote users at family visits and business presentations, the iPad-faced stand-ins were positively regarded “as that person,” the ChameleonMask team said.

There have so far been no plans to release the ChameleonMask human surrogate system as a consumer product. But if it ever is: What would you use a “human Uber” for?

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