Telepresence is the term we use to describe a new communications medium that enables a person to feel as if he or she is actually present in a different place or time. Virtual reality is the popular name for this technology; other names include cyberspace, tele-existence, and tele-symbiosis. Currently, the most common form of telepresence involves:

Telepresence allows people to feel as if they are present in two different kinds of spaces:

'Virtual reality' has become a hot topic over the last few years for several reasons. Many people who have experienced telepresence are struck by its powerful effects on their senses and imaginations. The experience is unique, evocative, and intense. People can begin to visualize things they can do with telepresence that were simply not possible before. Because computers can accomplish radical scale transformations, for example, people can directly experience everything from molecules to galaxies. Finally, both workers in the field and journalists who report on it have envisioned and described ways in which telepresence technology promises significant breakthroughs in diverse application areas, including entertainment, simulation and training, and scientific visualization.

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Revised: 2-20-95