Proposal: a system for virtually bringing pets into the office
Pet owners with 9-to-5 jobs may find that they miss their noble animal companion during work hours.
Some workplaces will allow well-behaved animals to hang out at work, but that is usually limited to dogs and draft animals. In any case, this addresses only a small subset of all possible domesticated animals.
However, with this new solution, we need not worry about badly-behaved animals, coworkers with allergies, or any other issues.
- The user must construct a “home office” environment that matches their work environment. For example, if there is a desk, a chair, and a monitor at work, those must also be present in the “home office.”
- This “home office” is actually just an environment where the user’s pet will dwell during work hours.
- The home office will contain many cameras (the blue rectangles in Fig. 1), which will reconstruct the exact location of the pet in the home office environment. This could be done with a technology similar to the Microsoft Kinect (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinect).
- Finally, while at work, the user will wear a VR headset at all times. The headset will superimpose the home image of the pet on top of the user’s identical desk at work. It is possible that the desk and furnishings at home may need to be painted green in order to “green screen”-out the non-pet elements of the home office.
Fig 1: The user’s home office (or wherever their pet lives) will need to be configured with the exact same layout and furniture as the user’s desk / space at work. Cameras (in blue, above) will determine the exact orientation of the pet and render it in a 3-dimensional voxel space. Note: constructing the home office would probably be easy for most office jobs, but if a user’s job is (for example) deep-sea giant squid inspector, it could be more difficult to affordably re-create the work environment at home.
Fig 2: Here, we can see the virtual-reality-goggles-wearing pet owner at the right. The cat image appears real to the headset wearer, but is naturally invisible to everyone else. Since the home office has the same layout as the work office, the pet’s actions at home will appear to match the work environment; e.g., the pet could climb onto the work table or monitor, since there is actually a real-world analogue of those objects in the pet’s environment at home.
Note that it may also be possible to run this system in reverse; a pet could also wear a virtual-reality headset and obtain a “holographic” image of its owner at work.
PROS: Allows a pet owner to get 8+ additional hours of pet enjoyment out of a day.
CONS: May require substantial real-estate to be dedicated to the “home office” pet environment.
Bonus figure: Here is a potential patent application illustration for this amazing idea.