Design and the Elastic Mind

James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau
Design Interactions Department, Royal College of Art
Social Tele-presence. Prototype. 2001

James Auger, Jimmy Loizeau, Design Interactions Department, Royal College of Art. Social Tele-presence (Prototype). 2001

Acrylic plastic, aluminum, electronic media, Sony Glasstron glasses, video and R/C radio receivers, 6 1/2 x 6 x 10 1/4" (16.5 x 15.2 x 26 cm). Gift of the Speyer Family Foundation. © 2018 James Auger

PAOLA ANTONELLI: Have you ever lacked the courage to do something you really wanted to do?

In this piece, Social Tele-presence, designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau propose a solution:

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you were painfully shy, but wanted to go on a blind date. You could have a friend put on this helmet and attend for you, acting as your stand-in.

The helmet has a camera with microphone that records what your proxy is seeing and hearing. Those images and sounds are then beamed back to you at home. You’re hearing and seeing everything that your stand-in is seeing and hearing, in real time. And you can direct them to move around and interact with people and things. You’re receiving all the sensory input of the experience, but you’re able to enjoy it without the actual, physical interaction you might fear.

It sounds far-fetched, but it’s based on technologies that are currently in development for military

This represents one extreme of a trend I call “Existenzmaximum”. It’s the idea that people can use small electronic devices to create much larger metaphysical space around them very comfortable, not oppressive. You turn one on, and suddenly your limited space does not matter anymore you have a big bubble of personal space around you. Just think of being on a subway car with your iPod on. These devices filter the outside world selectively, while allowing your senses and your imagination to roam free.

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