The advancement of technology comes a lot of change in the way we are able to communicate, connect and even go about business and execute our obligations. One such technology that has brought a revolution in the communications industry is telepresence. To the untrained most of the telecommunication technology that use video are one and the same thing. This is not entirely true. While for instance telepresence and video conferencing may have some similarities, they are not the same.
Telepresence technology is a set of robotic technology that provides stimuli to a user’s senses that makes them feel as though they are in or having an effect in another place other than their true location.
In telepresence technology, users have an opportunity to affect a remote location. A user can have their position, actions, and movements and even voiced transmitted to another location. The information in this sense is transmitted to and from between the user and remote location.
One of the most popular and mainstream application of telepresence technology is telepresence video conferencing. This is the most sophisticated level of video telephony which allows a very improved sense of fidelity of both sound and sight than you will have in traditional video conferencing.
It is quite interesting that mobile telephony technology has made it possible to move telepresence technology from the boardroom to allow the use of hand held devices despite the user’s location.
It all started in a 1948 novel called Waldo. In the book, the Author writes about his vision for a remote-controlled economy by suggesting some form of telepresence master-slave manipulator system. The idea was later carried in other books like Brother Assassin.
Marvin Minsky, a U.S cognitive scientist coined the term “telepresence” in 1980 in an article that outlined a concept of teleoperation that can give a participant a feeling of being in a different location.
Commercially, Teleport-which was later named TeleSuite-was founded in 1993. This made it possible for people who would have otherwise cut short their vacation to actually handle important business right from where they are. Hotels like Hilton quickly implemented the idea.
Since the commercialization of the concept, telepresence has had a wide range of applications. Applications of the technology include working in extreme temperatures that may be hazardous to human life, disarming bombs, handling of toxic material, remote surgery and space expeditions.
There are a lot of other technology that complements telepresence technology. Such include;
- Videoconference technology. This is any form of technology that will combine audio and video of more than one location, exchanging information in all directions in real-time.
- Holographic telepresence technology uses light to project an image of a something is a remote area so that users in that place have the experience of that person or thing being there with them. Holographic telepresence achieves the effect of immersive telepresence which defines just how real the user feels the remote location they are in.
There are profound benefits that telepresence affords a business. The main drivers that influence businesses to choose telepresence technology in their operations include;
- Reduction of travel expenses
- Reduction of environmental impact and carbon footprint
- Need to improve productivity by saving time and resources while encouraging efficiency
- The need to improve employee work life balance.
All the above bring in a lot of time cost benefits that are superior to just using traditional phone calls. There is accelerated problem solution, reduced downtimes, improved customer service and productivity that comes with telepresence technology for business
As is with anything in business, you have to do a proper cost benefit analysis to determine whether it is expensive. It just doesn’t end with whether the technology is expensive to acquire and run. It has a lot to do with how much beneficial it is to the business in the long run. Being that as it may, for businesses with multiple locations and a necessity to handle business in more places than one, telepresence extends a lot of benefits to businesses which far outweigh the initial expense which may be a bit high as compared to other forms of communication technology.
A common problem with telepresence technology is usually the level of precision that perception and detection take place. Harptics and sound perception require large amounts of bandwidth to transmit signal.