The Camera-in-the-Loop

While the benefits of mobile cost-effective object manipulation performed remotely by an operator or under computer control are fairly obvious, this is not necessarily the case for the advantages attributable to the "camera-in-the-loop". Used in virtually all telepresence and telerobotics applications, the camera in the loop creates opportunities for "experience multiplication". For example, a mobile telerobot used in a military or security setting enables multiple people to remotely scan the scene through the machine's "eyes". For even better coverage, multiple cameras and multiple weapons might be installed.

It is noteworthy that while a single operator might normally operate a telerobot, the ability to add users almost instantaneously provides on-demand "force multiplication" - a concept successfully proven through the swarming doctrine used in the second Gulf War. In a peacetime corollary, medical professionals could quickly report via video-based telecommunications to perform physical work in hospitals equipped with fleets of mobile telerobots. Moreover, communities that network with other communities to share police, fire fighting and paramedic resources through telerobotics would excel at responding rapidly to local emergencies like a bus crash or the aftermath of a storm.

Besides experience multiplication, the camera in the loop creates invaluable opportunities to repurpose rich media. Consisting of any combination of multimedia source material, rich media captured through telerobotic systems will allow networked databases of unprecedented scale to be created. The information collected will accumulate exponentially, thereby creating literally infinite opportunities to analyze and derive knowledge from the data.

Repurposing of rich media will facilitate continuous improvement of many processes, such as diagnosing ailments with visible characteristics, execution of clean room sanitation regimens and the development of effective human/machine interfaces. The rate at which high impact "edutainment" programming can be created, such as that seen on the DiscoveryTM channels, will be greatly accelerated. The increasing specificity of material, easy and precise searchability and ubiquitous access will enable people to educate themselves in a more focused manner than is possible today. Innovative use of rich media will ultimately lead to higher productivity for people in both their careers and personal endeavors.