What is telepresence? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

Telepresence is a sophisticated form of robotic remote control in which a human operator has a sense of being on location so that the experience resembles virtual reality (VR). The remotely-controlled robot (or telechir) and the human operator can be located at a great distance from each other. Control and feedback are done by telemetry over wires, optical fibers, wireless links or the Internet.

In a telepresence system, the telechir is often a humanoid robot, also known as an android. The control station can consist of a full body suit that the user wears. Sensors detect, and transducers reproduce, sensations of vision and sound. In some systems, tactile sensing is also possible (this is called haptics). The user wears headgear with a display and headphones that reproduce scenes and sounds as they appear at the site of the telechir. Binocular machine vision allows a sense of depth. Binaural machine hearing facilitates the perception of sounds with a sense of loudness and direction. The telechir may have one or two arms with end effectors (grippers) resembling human hands. In haptic systems, the user wears data gloves.

Applications of telepresence include working in extreme heat or cold, high or low pressure, and in other conditions hazardous to human life. Telepresence might be used to disarm bombs, handle toxic materials, and conduct dangerous military missions. Telepresence has been suggested as a method of performing surgery by remote control, and as a method of performing nanoscale operations by scaling down the telechir by a factor of thousands or millions.

One serious problem with long-distance telepresence is the fact that data and control signals cannot travel faster than the speed of light in free space. This limits the practical distance over which telepresence can be maintained without excessive latency. Another problem is posed by the level of precision with which detection and perception take place. Exceptional image resolution, sound perception and haptics require large amounts of bandwidth for signal transmission.

See also: telepresence room, holographic telepresence, telepresence robot, social robot, telemedicine, telehealth

This was last updated in August 2015
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms


  • photonics

    - Photonics is an area of study that involves the use of radiant energy (such as light), whose fundamental element is the photon. (WhatIs.com)

  • laser

    - A laser is a coherent and focused beam of photons; coherent, in this context, means that it is all one wavelength, unlike ordinary light which showers on us in many wavelengths. The acronym laser s... (WhatIs.com)

  • cyberextortion

    - Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of attack against an enterprise, coupled with a demand for money to avert or stop the attack. (SearchSecurity.com)


  • Computing fundamentals

    - Terms related to computer fundamentals, including computer hardware definitions and words and phrases about software, operating systems, peripherals and troubleshooting.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question. Find an Answer.Powered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Ask An IT Question

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Ask Question

Tech TalkComment



    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.