Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Tele-presence First?

After the company Hallowe'en party, we all voted for our favorite costume.

The Cyanotic Cybernetic Cyclops costume tied for second place. This wasn't an overwhelming victory, given that only seven costumes were entered.

Is this a first? Is this the first time someone has won a Hallowe'en costume prize without physically being there? I don't know, nor do I know how this could be determined.

In any case, it is significant evidence that people will view an object that is remotely controlled in this way as being the person controlling it. At least enough to award a prize.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Being there in costume

Yesterday was Hallowe'en, and I decided to dress up the "BruceBot" (see previous post).

Since it only has one eye, I decided to name it "Cyclops." After a little bit of searching on the Internet, and finding an image that I liked, and poking around in the dictionary, the final name became "Cyanotic Cybernetic Cyclops" (pictured below). "Cyanotic" because the image acquired a blue tinge, and "Cybernetic" because, well, it is really a "closed signal loop", with eye movements controlled remotely by someone who is watching the associated images.

With some help from Sara and Ben, the costume was applied the night before. Just before the event (a company party), I wheeled the unit into the room, then ran home and fired up the remote control from our iMac. Along the way, I reflected that what I was doing was the equivalent of "getting into costume."

Turning the volume up all the way, I was able to break through the conversation noise and interact with several of my colleagues as they were eating their lunch. One of them put a paper napkin over the eyestalk and I complained loudly that I was blind and couldn't see. Some kind soul removed it. A colleague leaned in close and challenged me to get out my costume. I promised that I would, but warned that it would take me about 5 minutes.

So, I left the remote controls in Sara's hands and ran back to the office. By the time I got there, Sara had captured a couple dozen images. Apparently the shutter sound effect from the iMac had gone through to the Cya...Cyb...Cyc... end and made some people a bit uncomfortable. In honor of that and simple privacy, I won't post pictures of others here.

Here I am eating some soup before...

and after zooming out.

Sara stayed connected as I wheeled the unit back to my desk, and enjoyed the ride. She said hi to a few people along the way.

I gave her some final advice about shutting down the remote control connection...

and smiled for a picture...

just after or before she captured it.

It was an interesting event, and because of how things happened, I got to experience the tele-presence thing from both ends within the same hour.