An operators' sense of remote presence during teleoperation or use of virtual environment interfaces is analyzed as to what characteristics it should have to qualify it as an explanatory scientific construct. But the implicit goal of designing virtual environment interfaces to maximize presence is itself questioned in a second section in which examples of human—machine interfaces beneficially designed to avoid a strong sense of egocentric presence are cited. In conclusion, it is argued that the design of a teleoperation or virtual environment system should generally focus on the efficient communication of causal interaction. In this view the sense of presence, that is of actually being at the simulated or remote workplace, is an epiphenomena of secondary importance for design.

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