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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid