News / Science & Technology

Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technologyi
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 23, 2014 1:03 AM
Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Elizabeth Lee

Imagine two dimensional photos and social media avatars being replaced by 3-dimensional representations of the actual user.

According to Ari Shapiro, a research scientist at University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, that technology is just around the corner.

“For me it is exciting to see what we now have," he said, describing a low-cost technology that may revolutionize social media. "Soon a lot of people will have the capability to model themselves very, very quickly for almost no cost.”

Demonstrating how the 3D avatar technology works at the school's Mixed Reality Lab open house, Shapiro gives attendee Jason Suh a quick body scan. Within minutes, Suh sees an avatar of himself moving around on a computer monitor.

“It was insane. Within a minute or so, they’ve got a copy of me, a 3D model of me, had me jumping and running," Suh said. "Since it’s an avatar of yourself, you can use it on like Facebook or something and personalize yourself — have a 3D model of yourself rather than just a profile picture.”

According to researchers, users will need the appropriate software, a computer and a scanner such as the Microsoft Kinect to get a 360-degree body scan to create the avatar. Since the process takes only a few minutes, users can change the look of the avatar every day.

The technology captures the person’s clothes, hair style and accessories such as glasses or a purse. The computer software then uses a variety of stored animations to make the avatar come to life.

Shapiro says 3D avatars can change the social media experience and make people feel more connected.

“So if you can imagine having a Facebook page where you have not only ... some information but your virtual character [speaking] the information, or some sort of social application where you and your friends and your family are shown as these avatars," Shapiro said. "So we believe that there’s a very interesting psychological effect that’s going to happen when people start seeing themselves and families and friends inside these simulations. We think it’ll be very powerful.”

While three-dimensional avatars created for Hollywood movies can cost millions of dollars, Shapiro says this type of avatar is much cheaper.

“We expect it’s going to be on the order of $10, $50, maybe $100 tops for a piece of software that can capture you and simulate you.”

Of course, there is a trade-off for the low price tag. For the moment, these avatars are missing some fine details such as dimples and the creasing of the eyes.

But Shapiro says as sensor technology improves, so will the quality. He is currently working on capturing the subtleties of movement and behavior — how a person walks, moves and socializes — in order to create 3-D avatars with personality.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs