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Telepresence of the Future: A Complete Paradigm Shift

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December 10, 2010

Telepresence of the Future: A Complete Paradigm Shift

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor

Telepresence (News - Alert) offers the ability to hold meetings and other face-to-face interactions that are just the same as being in the same room as the other person. This has created a number of cost savings and environmental benefits.

Beyond just business benefits, virtual travel, Technologist and Futurist Barry Shuler told TMCnet, is about, “a complete paradigm shift that will challenge individuals to look at their personal reality in an entirely new light.”

I asked Shuler, who recently released a book on the topic, “Virtual Travel: Embrace or Expire,” to provide more details on the technology behind virtual travel and which markets it will best serve.

According to Shuler, the true virtual travel of the future will go far beyond telepresence and video conferencing solutions of today, and will, “be so realistic that it will challenge your senses to distinguish a virtual experience from an actual experience, at least while you are experiencing it in the virtual travel studio.”

While most people demand physical actions like shaking someone’s hands or patting someone on the back to have a truly “real experience” Shuler notes that over time, the use of virtual travel will make the technology “second nature” to the point that, “your brain won’t discern a difference.”A critical technological component for this future of communications to function includes computing power and speed as well as communications networking capacity and reliability.

According to Shuler, these technologies will all, “need to increase by orders of magnitude over today’s levels.”

The next critical element is specialty hardware and virtual reality software - which share much of the idea behind computer games and electronic game consoles today.

“Just as these games are becoming more and more realistic with increasingly sophisticated software and more platform horsepower, so too is virtual reality software and hardware,” Shuler said.

Looking down the line at the future of virtual travel, Shuler identified the ways in which a “virtual reality” experience will be made possible. At first, requiring someone to go to a virtual reality studio and be outfitted with a suit, visor for the eyes, and earpieces, to have a full-immersion experience.

 Over time however, Shuler notes, as technology becomes more sophisticated and more collaboration studios are built, the possibility to simulate sectors of brain with taste, smell, touch, and more, will occur.

In the case of the business user, the increased use of virtual travel will also mean far less people needing to fly, and a reduction in traffic and air travel/transit as a whole.

Be sure to check back next week when I speak with Schuler about his new book and more of the ideas behind the future of virtual travel. 

Stefania Viscusi is an assignment editor for TMCnet, covering voice and Voice over IP technologies. She also oversees production of TMCnet's e-Newsletters in the areas of Internet telephony and speech technology. To read more of Stefania's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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