In 1902, Georges Méliès, a French magician and filmmaker produced and directed the world’s first science fiction film titled A Trip to the Moon. Since then, science fiction has evolved into one of the most popular and successful genres on both the big and small screen.
In addition to being a beloved genre, science fiction has also served as the inspiration behind many innovative technological breakthroughs. For instance, the television show Star Trek has been recognized as the inspiration for the Bluetooth earpiece, GPS systems and even cell phones. In recent years, Hollywood has been focusing on telepresence, a new form of emerging technology.
While telepresence is already the “talk of the town” in the corporate world, it has yet to make a splash among mass consumers. This is not due to a lack of interest or familiarity with this kind of technology. In fact, moviegoers have grown accustomed to seeing telepresence on the big screen.
In 1977, a young and relatively unknown filmmaker named George Lucas directed the film Star Wars. On top of being one of the most successful films in history, Star Wars was also the first film to portray telepresence technology in the form of a hologram carrying a secret message. Since then, telepresence technology has been showcased in a variety of films such as Surrogates, Gamer and most notably, James Cameron’s Avatar.
When asked by TMCnet to comment on the effect such films have had on audiences, Bob McCandless, CEO of BrightCom, said that the films shape the consumer’s expectations of such products as well as drive the industry towards certain technological solutions.
Movies have already taken this technology one step forward by creating fictional worlds in which humans no longer leave their homes or use their bodies in the physical world. In Surrogates, every person has an exact replica of themselves in the form of an android. While the android is off in the physical world, humans have confined themselves to their homes. In Avatar, human beings walk on the surface of the moon, Pandora,via large avatars while they themselves are situated in pods.
So, it would seem that once again Hollywood is shaping tomorrow’s form of communication. If this is case, we have much more to expect from telepresence.
At the moment, telepresence offers an immersive system for remote communication such as long distance conference calls. However, if Hollywood has its way, telepresence might soon develop into much more. Now may be the time to decide what color hair your avatar will have…