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Remote-Control a Human? Zabosu Project Aims to Give You That Power

Deb Amlen
June 19, 2014


For every buyer, there is a seller. Want to buy a person’s time so she can do a task for you? There are now concierge apps like TaskRabbit that will connect you to a person willing to do an odd job for you right now. But that’s so impersonal. So removed. Surely technology can do better.

It may do so soon. Check out the Zabosu Kickstarter campaign, which launched today.

CEO Karl Lautman told Yahoo Tech that Zabosu is an Android app that would allow people to “rent” other people to do pretty much whatever they tell them to do. It’s similar to professional concierge services, except that with 4G cellular service, a microphone, and a smartphone camera thrown in, it enables the person paying for the service to see and hear everything that’s going on.

See also: Her

The Zabosu founders refer to themselves as pioneers in what they call “human-mediated telepresence technologies and marketplaces,” a fancy way of saying, “We are responsible businesspeople and would be totally shocked if anyone thought to use this for webcam porn.” 

How it works
The app allows a person known as “The Director” to “take control” of another person known as “The Actor” anywhere in the world where there is 4G cellular service.

The Actor, or remote-controlled human, streams live audio and video of his surroundings via her cellphone so the Director can see and hear everything going on.

The Director also speaks to the Actor through an earpiece. The result, according to Zabosu, is a human projection of the Director into the Actor’s surroundings.

Awesome! When can I start ordering people around?
Not quite yet.

Zabosu is conducting this second Kickstarter campaign today (it canceled the first due to a PR snafu) in order to validate the concept and see how people might plan to use it. If the campaign becomes fully funded, Lautman says, the $100,000 they raise will not be used for development, but will sit in accounts as credits for donors to use when the app goes live. He anticipates being ready to launch the app in September but is giving the project until the end of 2014, just to be safe.

Lautman envisions Zabosu being used for, among other things, running errands, shopping, and sightseeing.


In addition, he told Yahoo Tech that he envisioned Zabosu as a way to save businesses money on travel to trade shows. He projects that a Director might hire an Actor to attend on his behalf and live-stream the show back to the Director’s company. He also sees a “new class of games being developed on our platform in which two-player teams face off against one another, with one member of each team at home on the computer directing the other member out in the real world.”


But wait, there’s more: Another possible application, Lautner says, is a “reverse” Zabosu, where the Actor hires the Director to direct her in a task she can physically perform, but doesn’t know how to (for example, home maintenance or even industrial tasks). What could possibly go wrong?


And since you can hire multiple Actors, they also helpfully suggest that “You could even assemble an army of Actors and make a bid for world domination …”  

Excuse us; we have a Kickstarter to help fund and a few million Actors to hire.

 View the Kickstarter page here.

Is there something weirdly popular on the Internet that you’d like explained? Write to Deb Amlen at buzzologyYT@yahoo.com and let her know. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter (@debamlen).