Can telepresence learn from the game industry?

Screenshot of Colony video game gameplay.

Can the telepresence robotics industry learn from the gaming industry? Can a shift in perspective change your experience?  I recently got some new glasses with some wide lenses as compared to my face.  Wide, like I can see reflections of what is going on behind me wide.  Like those super spy sunglasses I wore as a kid with the mirrored edges to see behind you kind of wide.  I have some much peripheral vision, it’s like a superpower.  Then while glancing through some crowdfunding campaigns I saw the trailer for a first person POV (point of view) action movie.  It was only a few minutes long, but all the action got me a little nauseous.   Not from the violence, but because I wasn’t immersed in the action myself and had only the visual perception.  All the running and jumping, without any other feedback from my body messed with my brain.  

That’s when it hit me.  Playing video games, I’ve never felt like that before, whether it was a first person shooter type view or otherwise.  In game development they talk about "player immersion" and having the player suspend disbelief of where they actually are, taking part on the game rather than sitting at home on a couch.  The single camera view and lack of peripheral vision is a huge drawback to this experience and takes great game design to overcome this.  It’s really no different with telepresence and there’s a lot less action, even without aliens or thugs coming after you.

Most telepresence robots use only the camera from the tablet or phone.  Some, like Suitable Technologies, use a second camera pointed towards the ground and blend both onto the same screen.  The Double has two, but only one camera at a time can be used.  Either looking forward to driving or for looking down for docking at the recharge base or a door threshold.  I can see where expanding peripheral vision would help and don’t know if a lens like this is the answer, but it’s an interesting idea to get a better sense of your surroundings.


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