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virtual presence

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Virtual presence is the ability of a user to feel that they are actually in a virtual location such as a web site or an immersive simulation using technologies like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). In VR, the perceptual illusion of presence is often dependent upon technologies that enable immersiveness.

Virtual presence focuses on placing users in simulated environments and making users who are simultaneously present in the same virtual environment aware of each other’s presence. Visitors using virtual presence sites are considered to be virtually present and are displayed for others.

The systems used for virtual presence consist of location collectors, presence computation and presence display along with synchronous communication between the host and its users. Location collectors gather information about locations browsed. Presence computation integrates the incoming data into presence lists and presence displays show those lists. The specifics about how these systems are implemented can vary greatly: location collection can happen on the device/client level, the server level or the network level.

In multiplayer gaming, VR chat and other 3D virtual spaces, virtual presence is referred to simply as presence, which can be confusing. Many also confuse virtual presence with telepresence, which is used to make people virtually present in real world locations for purposes such as business meetings or conferences.

This was last updated in June 2018

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