The first trans-Atlantic handshake
October 29, 2002 6:19 AM   Subscribe

The first trans-Atlantic handshake will be attempted today via the Internet. Apparently, this day could one day rival the significance of March 10, 1876. And of course, we all know where this is headed.
posted by Fofer (18 comments total)
"Cyberdildonics"? I don't know about the product, but I sure love that name. Deserves a place in Britain's top 10 words (Sure beats "football" or "muggle")
posted by lambchops at 6:24 AM on October 29, 2002

Sigh. The phantom work sounds spine-tingling, no pun intended - it's just what happened to me when I read the second paragraph of the linked article.

But Fofer is correct. Before even clicking on the "where this is headed" link, I thought "teledildonics."

Sigh and sigh again.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:31 AM on October 29, 2002

So, um....this cyberdildonics thing, it vibrates?

Unfortunately, I have a hard time imagining this thing going anywhere practical. Aside from the sheer entertainment value, what would be achieved by being able to sense (sort of) an object that isn't there?

Any ideas?
posted by ashbury at 6:36 AM on October 29, 2002

ashbury, you're kidding, right?

Surgery and diagnosis, for starters.

The deep human connection sealed by touch - being able to run a hand over the beloved's check, and never mind the teledildonics.

Art, sculpture.

Even at-present-unimagined mappings of touch onto other modalities - how about searching for undersea oil deposits or anomalous signals from space by waving your hand through data?

Fuse cheap, distributed, pervasive computation to finely-grained (but still macroscopic) manipulation of matter and I can think of a great many non-pr0n, non-entertainment applications.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:09 AM on October 29, 2002

The porn obsession of internet culture is truly fascinating.

On the other hand, methinks there is more than a little truth to the cliche, and some folks really need to get out more.
posted by rushmc at 7:24 AM on October 29, 2002

adamgreenfield, it simply didn't occur to me.
*cheeks go red, me slips quietly and unobtrusively out the back door*
posted by ashbury at 7:34 AM on October 29, 2002

watch the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
i understand jefferson had some hot slave girls...
posted by quonsar at 7:48 AM on October 29, 2002

A passing fad. Sort of like films shown on planes: it is against nature.
posted by Postroad at 8:04 AM on October 29, 2002

How about the signing of the Declaration of Indepence acted out by Playboy centrefolds?

/me attempts to get out more often
/me fails

posted by grum@work at 8:05 AM on October 29, 2002

Bah. This is just so much hand-waving.

Really, though, another application -- and one that could be a cash cow -- would be gaming applications, online or not. In an RPG, feel around for the crack that will make the rock wall swing open. In an FPS, feel the gun recoil. It may not ever be ubiquitous -- I'm not predicting anything on the scale of the 1990s virtual-reality hype. But it could easily be a popular entertainment once the equipment is mass-produced.

But mainly, it's useful for remote object manipulation. The way our brains are wired, we need both visual and tactile feedback. Someday, bomb-squad robots will use this combined with humanoid hands, customs inspectors will feel around inside shipping containers, and molecular scientists will feel the shape of a carbon atom. I think the possibility of moving beyond normal human scale is one of the more fascinating possibilities.
posted by dhartung at 8:25 AM on October 29, 2002

The secret behind the technology is the speed at which the successive impulses are sent -- up to 1,000 Hertz," UCL said in a statement.

OK, who wants to explain what in the world this means? I mean, if a reporter said that, it would be understandable. For a UCL press release to postulate that an e-m pulse somehow moves faster at 1 GHz then it does at, say, 1 MHz would be rather embarrassing.

I guess what they might be saying is that by dipping into 1 GHz frequency range they are packing a lot of bandwidth into the connection...

Oh yeah, to stay on topic, teledildonics! Woohoo!
posted by blindcarboncopy at 8:31 AM on October 29, 2002

I stumbled upon this yesterday... You know this stuff is gonna get taken way too far, way too quickly. "Fox turned into a hardcore porn channel so gradually, no one even noticed" --Marge Simpson Misquoted, but apropos.
posted by maniactown at 9:30 AM on October 29, 2002

Considering that porn has led the tech industry for the past 10 years, there's no good reason to assume it will not lead in this arena as well. And from the amount of spam-mail I receive regarding artificial orifices, penis enlargement products, live teens, etc., it wouldn't surprise me to see this technology take off.

I for one welcome our new digital-hand-job overlords.

(But they'd better have some good safety precautions... the lawsuits could be devastating...)
posted by zekinskia at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2002

I've actually done extensive testing with Dildonics. It is cool when used with a webcam and voicechat. I've "shared" experiences with "partners" in different states and countries.

But the novelty of it wore off quickly. With some development, though, it could be pretty amazing.
posted by halcyon at 10:06 AM on October 29, 2002

I shudder and am also intrigued at the possibility of wireless applications. Wireless fleshlights. Hmm....
posted by Stan Chin at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2002

bcc: Just like movie stills must be presented to us at around 30Hz or so to create the illusion of motion, a haptic device like the Phantom has to respond to user motion with the proper feedback at a very high frequency for the experience to "feel right". Thus, for long distance applications, a very low-latency, high-bandwidth connection is required.

I got the chance to use a Phantom once. It felt pretty convincing, but I was always gentle with it. I was afraid I'd overpower the mechanism and owe Stanford several thousand dollars. Others have told me that they're far less flimsy than I had feared, though.
posted by tss at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2002

How about the signing of the Declaration of Indepence acted out by Playboy centrefolds?

Perfect for John Hancock.

i'll be here all week. remember to tip your waiter
posted by owillis at 11:11 AM on October 29, 2002

blindcarboncopy -

Being neither an engineer nor an A&P head, is it possible that 1GHz is the regime in which perceptual/proprioceptive neural signals travel, and thus the phantom affords a perceived experience isomorphic with touch at the "back end"?

That would be my guess, anyway.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:53 PM on October 29, 2002

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