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Technology Predictions 2022: Metaverse – Next generation remote presence

These unusual robots can take your virtual presence to new hights. Image credit: Suitable Technologies

When we think about the cyberspace, or the Metaverse – a cooler name in these days-, we usually think about a space of data some of them creating models of the real space. We can look at this mirrors of real space (remember Second Life?) and interact with it. There can be several people interacting with this virtual space and they can interact with each other through the Metaverse.

What the 2022 Technology Predictions by the IEEE Computer Society is foreseeing is the growing possibility of interacting with the physical space via the Metaverse using proxies that operate in the physical space.

Consider the Beam, a robot developed by Suitable Technologies (see the photo). This robot has been designed to be an extension of ourselves beyond the boundary of locality. I can be at the office and through a Beam I can also be at home at the same time!

The robot has a certain degree of autonomy, it is not like a toy model vehicle that you drive using a remote control. It is an extension of you: Suppose you want to check with your grandfather who was not feeling weel when you left for the office. The Beam will look around for your grandfather and set up the connection with you so that your face is shown on the Beam “face” and you can interact with your grandfather.

Future. more advanced robots, will let you look for that drug blister by opening drawers and chests and may be take a look under the bed. Pull out the pill from the blister, get a glass of water and bring it to grandpa so that he can take his medicine. All of this, worth saying again, without tele-steering the robot but just projecting your intention to the robot, via the Metaverse, letting the robot to take the needed actions on site to achieve the goal.
It is a really exciting area, it will take most of this decade to have something (affordable) that can do the easy things I just described. For now we have to be satisfied with the possibility of visual and voice interaction supported by a robot able to roam an ambient to put us in touch with the person we want to talk to.

I presented a home application scenario, but there may be severa others. Your extension can be in a meeting room, impersonating you during the discussion and then moving closer to one of the participant (physically in the room or impersonated by another robot) to whisper something to her ear (or her mike….). What is interesting is this mixture of real and virtual, of physical presence by proxy.

Listen to what Tom Coughlin is telling us about this upcoming evolution.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.