Robot avatar beaming put to the test
The BBC has been given an exclusive demonstration of how the technology of "'beaming" robot avatars works, allowing a kind of 'physical' interaction at a distance.
Mel Slater, Professor of Virtual Environments at UCL, demonstrated his pioneering technology to the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones. He showed how he could "beam" his wife, Dr Mavi Sanchez-Vives who was in Barcelona, into his office in London, in the guise of a robot.
Mel Slater calls beaming augmented reality, rather than virtual reality. In beaming - unlike the virtual worlds of computer games and the Second Life website - the robot or avatar interacts with real people in a real place. Mel and his team have beamed people from Barcelona to London, embodying them either as a robot, or as an avatar in a specially equipped "cave". One avatar was able to rehearse a play with a real actor, the stage being represented by the cave's walls - screens projecting 3D images.
View the BBC video.
Read a related BBC News Magazine article.