A person lying in a fMRI machine has controlled a robot hundreds of miles away using the power of thought alone.

The controller was in Israel, and the robot was in France.  So far, they have only tested it on healthy people – the ultimate aim, of course, is to allow people who have no mobility to get out and about.  Allowing people to visit friends in other countries without leaving home would be a nice bonus.

Apparently the controller really felt like he was there – it is notoriously easy to convince people that other bodies are theirs, by fooling the senses.  Even better; the system works in almost real-time, and is improving all the time.  Next up is hearing and talking, probably followed by the sense of touch.

Imagine a world where instead of bus stations we have avatar stations – you go there, pay your avatar-fare, and connect; suddenly you are in another city, another country entirely.

Let’s go further – once the technology is improved further, everyone could have a connector in their home, like a TV or a phone.  This could be the teleconferencing of the future.  Who knows, maybe we could even get it working to another planet!