Virtual Intimacy

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Those of you in long-distance relationships might appreciate what researchers at MIT Media Lab Europe (via Wired) have devised. It’s a very subtle, non-invasive way for people to communicate over long distances without ever speaking to one another.

Using two tables, projectors, Mac computers, and tag readers, they’ve created a way for the two tables, which can be placed virtually anywhere (say, thousands of miles apart) to communicate via visually projected images of what’s on them.

Let’s say I’m dating two guys who live in Paris, but we never get to see each other and the time difference makes it difficult to communicate. I place a copy of Vanity Fair on my table, and they receive an image of it on theirs. So, in a way, they know what I’m up to. If I place another object on my table, another image appears on their table, forming a sort of collage. And it works from their direction as well. If they put a Hotel Costes CD on their table, I know they are having a fun evening (without me :-( ).

It’s a kind of “virtual intimacy” and one of the cool ways technology is entering our lives. I would equate it to having the television on in another room when you’re at home to keep you company when you’re alone. But it’s simply more personal. Seems a bit expensive to set something like this up right now, but of course, the future is coming faster than ever.

Posted November 28, 2003 at 1:15pm ETC by Andy Towle
in Art and Design