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‘Human Uber’ Lets You Replace Yourself With a Rube With an iPad Strapped to His Face

By Brian Feldman



More than a decade ago, the television show Arrested Development came up with the amazing and ridiculous idea of the surrogate — a helper equipped with an earpiece, a forehead camera, and a baseball cap labeled “SURROGATE” in all caps. The point of the surrogate (named Larry Middleman) was to have him function as a stand-in for a rich man trapped in prison. It was a very funny gag because you thought, This could never be real. Now, it’s real.


At the MIT Tech Review’s EmTech (the “em” stands for “emerging”) conference in Asia this week, researchers showed off a Human Uber, in which someone straps a screen to their face and fills in for someone else. Jin Rekimoto, a Japanese AR/VR researcher affiliated with Sony, showed the tech off using some very funny photos.



“Human Uber,” developed in Japan, provides a way to attend events remotely using another person’s body. “It’s surprisingly natural” says its inventor, Jin Rekimoto of Sony DUxZYtTVMAAS_sH?format=jpg&name=900x900

The tech, known as ChameleonMask, “uses a real human as a surrogate for another remote user. 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.” It looks, to be sure, extremely natural and not unsettling.


So, get ready for the next step for the gig economy. Hey, sorry I missed your birthday, but I’m sending an anonymous person wearing my face so I can Skype in, okay?

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