'Human uber' lets you pay someone to live your life for you

Someone can dress as you and walk around – all while you lounge at home with your laptop

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 01 February 2018 18:13
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'Human Uber' lets you pay someone to live your life for you

A new "human Uber" could let you pay someone to live your life for you.

Japanese researcher Jun Rekimoto has developed a special screen that can be strapped to a person's face and allow them to live on your behalf. By dressing up as you and having your face shown where theirs usually is, you'll be able to pay someone to go about your life instead.

The technology is aimed at allowing someone – a "surrogate" – to live your life for you, wearing your clothes and behaving on your instruction. You, on the other hand, would be able to lounge at home, watching events through your laptop and using its camera to communicate with people your surrogate meets.

"To do this, a surrogate user wears a mask-shaped display that shows a remote user’s live face, and a voice channel transmits a remote user’s voice," a page describing the tool, known as ChameleonMask, reads. "A surrogate user mimics a remote user by following the remote user’s directions.

"This design is based on our hypothesis assuming physical and social telepresence can be embodied by such a surrogate human who imitates the remote user."

Such telepresence systems have been developed before. But they have mostly been mounted on robots, which the person talking could then drive around, giving the feeling of being in the office, conference or other space that can only be joined over the internet.

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In contrast, the ChameleonMask appears to give a more complete experience, with the screen being carried around by a person who can also be dressed the same as the user might be. The experience is much better than those robots, its creator claims.

"It also eliminates many difficulties of teleoperated robots wandering in the environment," the page describing the innovation claims. Experiments have shown that people are able to think of the surrogate as the real person, it also claims.

Though the mask has been described as "human Uber", it's actually far more involved than that. Rather than transporting something, the person is required to live as you and behave on your instruction.

It was shown off this week at the EmTech conference, where a user tweeted a picture of the strange contraption that was later shared by tens of thousands of people.

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