What is Telepresence?


Telepresence is a form of remote conferencing in which the participants appear to be physically present in the conference space. Body language cues like eye contact are easily transmitted and interpreted because of the fidelity, size, and position of the images. Several high-profile 3-dimensional demonstrations of the technology have taken place; for instance, CNN made extensive use of the technology during coverage of the 2008 US presidential election. Typically, 3D telepresence requires a specially configured space in which to capture a 360-degree image that can then be inserted into a virtual set, and viewed from any angle, but high-definition displays, seamless integration with software and data presentation, and full-surround audio make even 2D telepresence a very immersive experience.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

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(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The above description appears to assume that telepresence occurs as a structured and planned activity from defined locations and in a planned way. Telepresence will have a much greater impact when (not if!) it becomes more embedded and ubiquitous, and hence more ad hoc and serendipitous. A critical element is being able to be 'telepresent' in arbitrary environments. A good example of the potential implications of this came from work by IBM exploring embedding live data feeds from the Australian Tennis open into a virtual world, so that the "virtual players" duplicated, in real-time, what the real players were doing. This meant that you (or rather, your avatar, could sit anyway and what the game being played - including sitting in the middle of the court. Whilst a long way from telepresence, as the technology improves and the virtual experience becomes richer and more seamless, it will create opportunities for the learner to be present in environments that are otherwise impractical. Imagine a learner who really did feel as through they were telepresent in the Acropolis in real-time! - David.Lowe David.Lowe Aug 9, 2012
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on STEM+ education?

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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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