Professor Cheok, what will your talk at the CeBIT Global Conferences be about?
My talk introduces new facilities that are arising in the hyperconnected internet era within human media spaces. This allows new embodied interaction between humans, species, and computation both socially and physically, with the aim of novel interactive communication and entertainment.
Humans can develop new types of communication environments using all the senses, including touch, taste, and smell, which can increase support for multi-person multi-modal interaction and remote presence.
In this talk, I will present an alternative ubiquitous computing environment and space based on an integrated design of real and virtual worlds, and discuss some different research prototype systems for interactive communication, culture, and play.
Your daughter Kotoko is at the age of 10 right now. What do you think will her daily (digital) life be like in 10 years from now?
The digital technologies 10 years from now will be much more immersive and pervasive. Our digital communication will be more about transmitting experience and less about transmitting information. We will be able to able to send and receive multisensory data through the internet, experience and interact with a remote environment with all of our senses.
Internet will be accessible from our everyday objects and we will no longer need a computer or mobile device to get online. It is also possible that humans will have microchips embedded in our bodies to collect and share data with machines and other humans.
In 10 years' time, the boundary between humans and technologies will become much less noticeable.
You say "My great passion is to invent and make totally new kinds of computing and media that will help people, society, and the environment." Could you explain this a little bit more?
In my lab, I always encourage my researchers and students to do quantum step, blue sky research and adopt radical thinking. Instead of making small improvements and building on current technologies, we should invent technologies that have never existed before, and think about how our research and inventions can benefit the society in 10 or 20 years.
I recently started a conference on Love and Sex with Robots. Although now it seems controversial and radical for humans to have robots as partners, have sex with robots or marry robots, I believe this will become more common in the next 20 years. Robots will become very much involved, both physically and emotionally, in people’s lives. We are now working on several projects on this topic, including a kissing robot and a conversational agent which can have different personalities.
With the technological advancements in robotics and artificial intelligence, I believe humans will be able to develop more intimate, emotional and humanistic relationships with robots.
In the last few years everyone has been talking about VR and augmented reality. Will it be the big "game changer" in 2017?
I think VR and AR technologies have already been a big game changer in 2016. The global phenomenon of Pokémon Go shows that AR applications have really taken off in the consumer market, and this has created big opportunities for companies, marketers and developers to use the technology in their businesses.
For example, as a real-world location based AR game, Pokemon Go allows retail stores and cafes to use a gamification marketing approach to attract players to visit their shops. We will also expect more organisations to use AR and VR technologies in their exhibitions, tours and advertisements.
With VR headsets becoming cheaper and more accessible, more users are likely to adopt this technology. At this point, I think we need more content creation to push AR/VR applications into the mainstream.
What are you most looking forward to personally about your CeBIT visit?
I'm most looking forward to the Internet of Things track at the CeBIT conference. This has been a most talked about topic in the last few years. I'm excited to find out what are the latest innovations and applications in this area. Also, I think this is the biggest trend that is most likely going to change the world in the next 5 years.