Some progress on the virtual environment front...
Long Distance Lovers Virtually Share Drink
Long distance lovers could soon be able to bond by sharing a wi-fi glass of wine.
Researchers at MIT's Media Lab in Boston say the idea is to give the feeling of a shared drinking experience.
The high-tech glasses will glow warmly when raised, no matter how far apart the drinkers are, reports New Scientist.
Jackie Lee and Hyemin Chung, experts in human-computer interaction, say that communal drinking is an important social interaction that helps bind friendships and relationships.
Lee and Chung have incorporated a variety of coloured LEDs, liquid sensors and wireless links into a pair of glass tumblers.
When either person picks up a glass, red LEDs on their partner's glass glow gently. And when either puts the glass to their lips, sensors make white LEDs on the rim of the other glass glow brightly.
Following tests in separate labs, Lee says the wireless glasses really do "help people feel as if they are sharing a drinking experience together".
The glasses, dubbed lover's cups, will be unveiled at the CHI 2006 conference on computer-human interaction in Montreal in April.
Also see The Future Of Virtual Environments.