‘Human Uber’ Lets You Hire A Surrogate To Go To Social Events Instead Of You

Published 6 years ago

We all know that feeling of regret that settles in when we’re getting ready to go somewhere we don’t really want to go, and we’re not even sure how someone persuaded us to agree to it. But what if we didn’t need to go out of our house to attend social gatherings? What if we could hire someone else to go out instead of us while still making everyone believe that we’re there? That is what Japanese company Rekimoto Lab suggested when presenting their new invention called Chameleon Mask at EmTech Asia conference.

Chameleon Mask is a device that works pretty much like any other telepresence system, but instead of being mounted on a moving robot, it is worn by another person – a human surrogate. That surrogate would be able to see the world through the camera and get written instructions, that would overlay their camera feed, on how to act and what to do. In the meantime, the public would see and hear the live-stream of the person that is instructing his stand-in from, possibly, miles away. This idea is now widely labeled as “Human Uber” as it can take you anywhere you want but instead of using a car, you use another person’s body.

To prove the believability of the product, the company carried out a few experiments, which suggested that while interacting people tend to believe that the person in front of them is the one that is portrayed on the screen. The person that is acting as a stand-in, in most of these situations, is simply ignored by the public.

This interesting concept can provide many uses in today’s society. Busy business men and women could use this device to attend meetings or give presentations when they can’t physically be present at the conference room. People with certain illnesses or disabilities could also benefit from the device as it would give them a chance to go wherever they wanted to. The possibilities are endless really, but that is also where it gets a little tricky – how far can a person go while using it?

The question regarding social gatherings is probably the main controversial point here. Are people really that lazy and anti-social that they need to use this service in order to avoid real human contact? Isn’t that going to negatively affect the way people are interacting? The creators of the product mention a possibility of entering romantic relationships with the help of the device, but does it really provide the users with the intimacy required for a serious relationship? Also, what about the possibilities it creates for cheating and deceiving people in any other way?

And then there is the other side of the project – the surrogates. The company themselves touched upon this rather philosophical idea when presenting the product – what does it really mean to be standing in for a stranger? What does it mean to be ordered exactly what you have to do? Is watching someone else’s life, the happy and sad moments, a positive experience? How does it feel to be a part of something intimate while being completely ignored?

The device is not popular yet and we can’t be sure whether it will ever be, so maybe these questions aren’t worthy to be considered. We have another question for you though: that regret you get when you’re getting ready to go out somewhere, is it really that unbearable? Aren’t the times when you forced yourself out and you actually had genuine fun worth the risk of going out from time to time? Maybe if we consider that now those other questions will not be at all relevant.

Source: Chameleon Mask (h/t design taxi)

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Japanese company Rekimoto Lab has recently introduced Chameleon Mask, a telepresence system that uses human surrogates to stand-in instead of someone else

The device will allow the public to see the face and hear the voice of the person streamed live from the comfort of their own home, while the surrogate attends the event

The product is similar to a VR headset with a tablet attached to the front – that way the surrogate can see the surroundings while everyone else can see the face of someone else live-streamed on the screen

The product was likened to Uber but instead of a car, here you hire a person to take you wherever you need to be

Source: Will Knight

The process of hiring a ‘Human Uber’ would be simple: once you have in mind what you want to do, you choose a candidate with similar looks and body type from the available people listed on an app

Then you can have a chat with the surrogate and even lend them your clothes to make it more believable. After that, they’re off to stand-in for you

According to the creators of the product, the experiments showed that people tend to believe that the person in front of them is the one live-streamed on the tablet, while the surrogate is mostly ignored

Source: Will Knight

The company suggest that the device would also come in handy when creating believable cosplays

While the product can be useful for, for example, ill or disabled people or business men and women that need to be at two places at once, it is still rather controversial as there are no limits to its usage

Is Chameleon Mask the future of social gatherings? We will have to wait and see


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chameleon mask, human uber, rekimoto lab, telepresence
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