What's the Latest Development?

A new humanoid robot, recently demonstrated in Japan, could soon allow individuals to experience foreign locations without ever leaving their chair. Using a series of sensors, including a 3-D head-mounted camera, microphones and touch sensors on its fingertips, the Telesar V Robot Avatar communicates detailed sensory information to its operator from a foreign location. To receive data from the robot, the operator wears a 3-D helmet display which receives the robot's entire field of view, headphones and sensors on their hands.

What's the Big Idea?

Besides fanciful notions like dozing in the Caribbean from your living room sofa or having virtual sex, new avatar technology might prove useful in professional environments. Doctors may one day be able to conduct physical examinations of patients from a remote location, as long as their patients warm to the idea of being groped by a robot. The technology might also be used in space exploration to give humans on earth a sense of a foreign world or in dangerous professions like bomb discovery and disarming.

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