PRoP: Personal Roving Presence

In the rush into cyberspace, we leave our physical presence and our real-world environment behind. The Internet, undoubtedly a remarkable communications tool, still does not empower us to enter the real world of the person at the other end of the connection. We cannot look out their window, admire their furniture, talk to their office mates, tour their laboratory, or walk outside. We lack the equivalent of a body or Personal Roving Presence (PRoP) at the other end with which we can move around, communicate, and observe. However, by combining elements of computer graphics, the Internet, and tele-robotics, it is possible to transparently immerse users into navigable real remote worlds filled with rich spatial sensoria and to make such systems accessible from any networked computer in the world, in essence: globally accessible tele-embodiment.

We populated the Electric Garden with several special tele-robots including several ground-based surface cruisers and a few space-browsing airborne blimps to provide the sensation of tele-embodiment. Drivers and pilots controlled these PRoPs and experienced their remote world through live two-way audio and video. Attendees also controlled and interacted with separate virtual PRoPs inhabiting a simulated world that exhibits realistic physical and dynamic behavior.

Eric Paulos
Computer Science Department
387 Soda Hall
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720-1776 USA

John Canny and Francesca Barrientos