Researchers in Japan may have found a solution for introverts to never leave their room again. The product is fascinating and ridiculous but it might really come in handy for those who are not in the tradition of meeting and greeting people. The Chameleon Mask, also called the Human Uber, provides the users with surrogate people who can go and attend events in their place. For the Human Uber to work, the surrogate attached a screen to their face which works as a mask and shows the face of the real user on the display. The user, who is not actually present at the event, can enjoy the event remotely from their home or from wherever they want to.
The product can be compared to some ideas that were floating in a TV series called the Black Mirror. The series shows some dangers that might raise heads because of the advancement of the technology. There is no information on whether the product will be available for general public or not. The Human Uber was unveiled at MIT Tech Review’s EmTech event in Singapore by Jun Rekimoto, who is a futurist and AR/VR researchers at Sony Computer Science Labs.
Rekimoto tested the Human Uber by sending a girl cosplaying as an anime character to a public place. The video of the girl showed the character’s voice and face on the tablet while the girl, who was the Human Uber, gestured her arms as she spoke. The human uber might be able to perform more tasks other than the usual daily tasks. The researchers suggest that the Human Uber can be used to go out with your favourite celebrity or go out with them such as Lady Gaga.
Remote users can communicate with their surrogate using a private line and can give them directions such as where to look, what to do, wave, point etc. The private chat is done on Google Hangout audio chat feature. In order to communicate on the public line, the surrogate has to mute the private line. This is the channel which lets the user talk to the people remotely. The Human Uber’s advanced interface still stands in the way of one very important factor that determines whether it appears realistic or not. If the surrogate’s body doesn’t look like yours, it will look very awkward.
The researchers suggest that the remote user should find a surrogate first who looks like them. Rekimoto says that people seem to think that the technology is pretty believable. He said, “Our pilot study confirmed that people could regard the masked person as a right person.” The Chameleon Mask might have shocked people a little, however, there are still apps which can mirror some of the services of Human Uber. Postmates and TaskRabbit are the two apps which gained a lot of traction among many millennial users.
These apps let users do the everyday task, match them up with freelancers who are willing to perform the tasks like moving, cleaning and delivery services. Rekimoto compared Human Uber to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk which began in 2014. It assigns freelance workers to perform microtasks like duplicating web pages on the Amazon Online market. Twitter users pointed out many TV shows which were using techs like Human Uber, like Arrested Development, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.