What is Virtual Presence

Virtual presence means being present at virtual locations. In particular, the term 'virtual presence' denotes presence on Web locations pages and Web sites. People who are browsing a Web site are considered to be virtually present at a Web location. Virtual presence is about presence, mutual awareness and synchronous communication on the Web.

There are of course other virtual spaces, especially elaborated 3D spaces like multiplayer online computer games, experimental spaces, chat and living oriented worlds. Mutual awareness and presence in these worlds is simply called 'presence'.

There is an overlap between 'presence' and 'virtual presence'. Presence research can be applied to the Web as a virtual space. This makes presence and communication paradigms in 3D spaces an interesting topic for virtual presence research as well.

A Virtual Presence System

A virtual presence system makes people aware of each other's presence, if they are browsing the same Web site at the same time. It consists of a location collector, presence computation, and a presence display. The location collector gathers live information about browsing locations. Computation components integrate the data and generate presence lists, which are shown by presence displays. There are many degrees of freedom for actual implementations. Location collection may be server based, client based or network based. The computation component may be monolithic or distributed. And the display may use avatars or a textual list, to name just a few possibilities.

What Virtual Presence is not

Virtual presence is not tele-presence. Tele-presence and tele-operation concentrate on the real world, while the focus of virtual presence is the Web as a virtual space. There are overlaps between virtual presence and tele-presence. Virtual presence reaches from presence at Web locations to presence in artificially created (3D) spaces. Tele-presence starts at the other end, at real world locations, which are mediated by 3D models. 3D models of real world locations of course have a close relation to completely artificial spaces. This is where virtual presence and tele-presence meet. If you are interested in tele-presence, general presence research, and immersive presence, see the International Society for Presence Research (ISPR).

The Purpose of this Site

This is a collection of virtual presence related developments. It explains the foundations of the virtual presence concept and references projects, products, research, systems, publications, and opinions. The web site serves as a focal point for people interested in the topic.

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