'Human Uber' allows you to live your life without leaving the house

'Human Uber' allows you to live your life without leaving the house

The future is here, and it's getting pretty weird. Amazon opened a store without any cashiers or check-out lines. At the annual Consumer Electronics Show, they debuted robot strippers. On the streets of San Francisco, robots are being used to fight homeless people. Our parents used to say, "Don't get into cars with strangers." Now we do it every day on Lyft and Uber (at least, until the driverless cars get here). It's just a different world.

Thankfully, a new product solves one of society's biggest problems: human interaction. Don't you hate leaving your house every day, and talking to people? Your family, your friends, your neighbors, the grocery clerk? It's the worst. Luckily, now there's a way for you to experience the world without ever leaving the comfort of your sofa.

It's called "ChameleonMask," aka "Human Uber," although it's more like "Human Facetime." You strap an iPad mask to a surrogate's face - good luck finding someone to play that role - and then send them him or her off into society. Through the magic of the telepresence technology, you can virtually interact with the world (at least until your surrogate decides to run away with your iPad and sell it at a pawn shop).

At MIT Tech Review's EmTech, researcher Jun Rekimoto presented ChameleonMask to the crowd and said it feels "surprisingly natural." According to Rekimoto's website, the system "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. A surrogate user mimics a remote user by following the remote user’s directions."

They recommend finding a surrogate who has a similar body type as you, I suppose because it's more realistic. Although, as a short person, I would much rather experience the world through a tall surrogate, especially if I'm sending him or her to a concert. I don't understand how the surrogate can see through the iPad mask, but I would assume they're looking into some sort of viewfinder and there's a front-facing camera. Either that or you smash eyeholes into the monitor.

Like a lot of new technology, it seems both awesome and ridiculous. Could we be looking at the future? Maybe investigative reporters will use surrogates to venture into dangerous territories. Maybe sick or disabled people will use surrogates to virtually experience climbing Mt. Everest or snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef. Or maybe lazy people will use surrogates to pick up a case of beer, because the grocery's store's, like, six blocks away, and they don't feel like putting on pants, man. Sure, robots might replace workers - but humans could find new jobs, as surrogates.

We live in exciting times, that's for sure. But who knew we'd go to so much work just to avoid social contact?