Digital but physical surrogates

Ambient information such as Monkey Business, Nabaztag or Availabot are related to the idea of embedding awareness with in a tangible artifact. This has been addressed by Kuzuoka, H. and Greenberg, S. in 1999 in their paper "Mediating Awareness and Communication through Digital but Physical Surrogates". ACM CHI'99 Video Proceedings and Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI '99 Conference Extended Abstracts. There is a video here. Some excerpts:

Digital but physical surrogates are tangible representations of remote people positioned within an office and under digital control. Surrogates selectively collect and present awareness information about the people they represent. (...) Because these devices are located in the physical world, they attract one's attention through natural environmental cues (sounds, movement, etc.), are easily and naturally manipulated, and can serve as dedicated and responsive communication conduits.

Then they present examples of such surrogates:

The first class of our surrogates illustrates how activities of a remote person can be embodied within a physical surrogate located in a local office. (...) The next class of surrogates illustrates how a person can explicitly express different degrees of interest in others by manipulating a surrogate. (...) The final class of surrogates illustrates how they can be used to mediate communication.

And the authors points to relevant issues related to awareness surrogates:

First, awareness surrogates are caricatures with only limited ability to express information. Consequently, surrogates are best suited for portraying only limited notions of availability that abstracts one's activity: while still providing a general sense of availability, this lessen the risk of intrusion (...) Second, surrogates are a natural way to control video and audio quality [8], which in tum preserves privacy and minimizes distraction. (...) Third, surrogates can express different levels of salience, and thus can mitigate distraction.

Why do I blog this? it's intriguing to see how this trend emerged, evolved and now is closer to mass market. I am interested in how this would enhance gaming experience.