I thought I would make a post to provide some perspective. Occasionally I come across articles, blogs or books, that vilify technology. A recent blog post I read highlighted this impression when referring to email. According to experts like Steven Johnson author of Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life: “When we interact with other humans via communication channels that are stripped of facial expressions and gestures and laughter, we are unwittingly simulating the blank emotional radar of the mindblind…
The lesson here is twofold. First, certain social settings— particularly those that involve virtual communication— may artificially dampen laughter that would otherwise be generated in a face-to-face encounter. Second, social interaction without laughter produces modified brain chemistry, which affects both your background impression of the exchange— its emotional color— and the resulting trace memories the exchange leaves in your head. Putting smiley faces into email to supplement the lack of verbal intonation helps convey when you’re trying to be funny, but because the recipient of your message is still alone when reading it, she won’t be likely to laugh out loud, and that suppressed laughter will make a difference. The memory will be happier— and consequently stronger— if she laughs.”
Let me say first, that telepresence is way better than email and second, that we review all types of robots on this site and do our best to provide a full review on their capabilities. What you plan on using telepresence for and how should be something to keep in mind in light of this. If you already have a developed relationship with the colleagues you will be telecommuting to, you might not need some features like a large screen that displays your pretty face, but if you will only be meeting with them in person once or twice a year that screen could become a means to chemistry bonding. This site began out of a passion for technology and a love of telepresence robotics. As with any technology there are limits.
Current technology will never fully replace a face to face meeting with someone. As great as a similar technology like Skype or FaceTime, video calls have not really taken off. If it’s not a latency issue, then the resolution and image might be poor. If you can’t see emotion and micro-expressions that we all make, the experience can hinder communication as highlighted above. “Laugh and the world laughs with you,” the saying goes, fail to recognize a grin or a smirk and you’ll lose the meaning of a statement and you’ll cry alone, such can be the advantage with telepresence. Until holographic presence devices are taken out of the labs and put into homes and offices we can enjoy what we have.