Within a few short years many Europeans could have their own virtual representative. Living in a parallel world these humanoid 'avatars' could resemble the person they represent. Researchers are now looking at ways of capturing and processing sufficient personal data to create such virtual characters.
POPULATE, an i3 project, addresses the question of how Inhabited Information Spaces (IIS) can be populated with representations of real people. To this end research will concentrate on the fundamental step of how to capture a person's physical identity or 'reality' in the form of data. Further work includes looking at ways to convert such data into avatars, and the quality levels required in the process.
Kiosks rather like the familiar passport photo booth will most probably be used to enhance the reality of virtual representatives. Costing between 10 and 30 ECU each, avatars could be created by scanning and digitising the form of a human subject to form a three-dimensional polygon mesh. This will be automatically converted into a humanoid avatar model. Key technologies in the project include 3-D data capture and processing.
The kiosks will be networked to i3net, enabling users to download their avatars from home. At the end of the project, two European companies expect to build AvatarKiosks for a market that could number millions of people around the world.
At the conference a computer animation simulates the capture of avatars from a booth. It will also show the processing and application of these virtual representatives within Inhabited Information Spaces.
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