It could be good news for hikikomori, busy work-from-home types, or... well, you fill in the blank. Scientists in Japan are developing a VR robot that allows users to see, hear, and feel the world around them as though they're really there.
The technology, dubbed "telexistence," allows humans to have a genuine, real-time experience in a remote venue. This is accomplished not only via microphones and cameras, but also with special sensors in the robot's hands that convey different tactile sensations. The wearer of the unit's gloves can experience sensations of vibration, pressure, and temperature from a distance.
Ideally, by 2019, users of the telexistence tech would be able to visit a museum from home, or determine the quality of fabric while shopping remotely for clothes. Eventually, the hope is to use it for remote medical treatment.
Though the commenters on various news sites have already pretty much decided what they'd use it for.
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.