Creating Telepresence in Virtual Mediated Environments

Creating Telepresence in Virtual Mediated Environments

Sana Debbabi (IAE-University of Toulouse 1, France) and Serge Baile (IAE-University of Toulouse 1, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-955-7.ch102
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Abstract

Why examine the concept of telepresence? A number of emerging technologies, including virtual reality, simulation, home theater, state-of-the-art video conferencing and virtual three-dimensional (3-D) environment, are designed to give the user a type of mediated experience that has never been possible before. This new experience seems to be “real,” “direct” and “immediate.” The term telepresence has been used to describe this compelling sense of being present in these mediated virtual environments (Held & Durlach, 1992; Steuer, 1992). On the empirical side, the use of this new revolution in media technologies has expanded to telemedicine, telepsychiatry, distance learning, legal testimony from remote locations, arcade games and more (see Lombard & Ditton, 1997). An enhanced sense of telepresence is central to the usefulness and profitability of the new technologies mentioned above, and others such as the World Wide Web and high-definition television. As underlined by Zhang, Benbasat, Carey, Davis, Galletta and Strong (2002) in the management information systems field, the concept of telepresence has become an important component of our understanding of how people experience computer-mediated environments. On the theoretical side, researchers in communication, psychology and other fields are interested in particular in how people are influenced by media presentations. An understanding of telepresence can enhance our theories here, too. Despite the centrality and importance of telepresence, it has not yet been carefully defined and explicated. In fact, researchers, especially those working on human performance in virtual reality, have noted the need to conceptualize and measure telepresence more effectively (e.g., Held & Durlach, 1992; Sheridan, 1992). In the remainder of this article, we (a) review several conceptualizations of telepresence and presence in literature, (b) review telepresence determinants, (c) outline the main methods commonly used for measuring telepresence and (d) recommend attributes of future research concerning this concept.

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