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3-D Avatars Could Put You in Two Places at Once
April 15, 2011 | Howard Lichtman
by John Tierney
If Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson are right, here is what's in store for you and your avatar very soon, probably within the next five years:
1) Without leaving your living room or office, you'll sit at three-dimensional virtual meetings and classes, looking around the table or the lecture hall at your colleagues' avatars.
2) Your avatar will be programmed to make a better impression than you could ever manage.
3) While your avatar sits there at the conference table gazing alertly and taking notes, you can do something more important: sleep.
Does this sound like future hype? Your first instinct may be to classify it with the old predictions -- see World's Fair, 1964 -- that there would soon be a picturephone in every kitchen. It took half a century for video phone calls to become affordable and usable. But in their new book, Infinite Reality Dr. Blascovich and Dr. Bailenson insist that 3-D conferences with avatars are nigh because consumer technology has suddenly caught up with the work going on in their virtual-reality laboratories in academia. These psychologists point to three developments in the past year: the Microsoft Kinect tracking system for the Xbox, the Nintendo 3DS gaming device, and the triumph on "Jeopardy!" of I.B.M.'s Watson computer.
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