Sketch of Virtual Presence bot in theatre seat & text on using them to create embodied but virtual experiences of live events

How public spaces that depend upon collective experiences in crowded places, like theatres, universities and stadia, can work when Covid19 remains a risk is a problem.

Remote presence

The benefits are that the robots both act as social distance markers – blocking close proximity and lowering transmission risk between physically present audience members and as revenue creators – enabling a virtual presence with a personal perspective in a real place.

Offering safe choices

For those people who feel willing to share a physical place then they are clearly shown an auditorium (or lecture hall or football stadium) that is properly managed and Rick assessed.

For this people who feel unsafe in an open physical space then they can still feel the sense of being in a specific seat and with a personal perspective of a live performance.

Together, apart

Mixing income streams

Some venues can have more people in them because they have more open spaces. Some are seriously limited by their architecture. Assessing the physical/virtual audience loadings will be a Health and Safety Assessment by venues and, perhaps, a council licensing issue.

Reality, virtually

Covid19 has created such a mass market pressure. Huge numbers of physical venues and businesses that are unable to reopen safely in ways that protect paying attendees and in ways that have enough revenue to support a profitable business.

Mixed physical/virtual presence may be one route to a business model that is socially and corporately responsible.

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX