(Tele)Presence: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Now


Matthew Lombard

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA, USA



Presence, short for telepresence, describes a technology-generated psychological state in which the role of the technology in the experience is misperceived and a person feels, most typically, a sense of ‘being there’ in another physical location (as in virtual reality) and/or a social connection (as in a video conference).  Although many of the ideas and even some of the technologies related to presence have origins in centuries past, academic research and theory regarding the concept and phenomena related to presence are mostly very recent. They are also highly interdisciplinary and international in scope.


This paper will briefly review the origins, recent history, and current status of theory and research on presence. The focus will be not only on key theoretical frameworks and research findings, but the organizations and individuals in the presence community and resources (e.g., conferences, listservs, web sites) available for those interested in presence. Finally, current opportunities and possible directions for the future of work on presence will be discussed, with a particular focus on opportunities for those in the field of communication.