Travelers flying out of Boston’s Logan International Airport may have met its newest assistant, Carla. She’s upbeat, informative – but not human.This hologramlike virtual assistant stands by one of Logan’s checkpoints, explaining the rules for passing through security. As she bops through each regulation, pictures of cellphones and toiletries (neatly packed into plastic bags) appear above her hands (like at 0.43 in video below) After the two-minute spiel, Carla repeats the message in Spanish.
“Project LifeLike is a collaboration between the Intelligent Systems Laboratory (ISL) at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that aims to create visualizations of people, or avatars, that are as realistic as possible. While their current results are far from perfect replications of a specific person, their work has advanced the field forward and opens up a host of possible applications in the not-too-distant future.”
"After downloading free software, users can create cartoonish
avatars, roam in virtual chat rooms, watch videos from Google's YouTube
and photos from Picasa, or create their own virtual rooms to chat with
friends and family. Lively avatars can assume different identities,
change cloths, laugh, cry and hug with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Google says Lively is a "20 percent project" by Google Labs, meaning
it's about 20 percent complete. The lab is where the company tests new
products before launching them. Unlike the real world, Google said it
is not planning to sell ads in its new virtual world."
"Torrens’s computer simulations let planners drop a few thousand virtual
people into a burning building, then sit back and take notes—with heat
coming only from the computer itself. The specific scenarios Torrens
creates could show firefighters how to save the most people, tell
architects where to place exits or barriers in stadiums, and guide
police forces in corralling unruly mobs."
"Torrens’s model, on the other hand, turns each individual into an
“avatar” with an artificial mind. Avatars can plan their own route,
adjust their path on the fly, and even respond to the body language of
fellow cybercitizens who may be jostling them."
"Online virtual worlds, electronic environments where peoplecan work and interact in a somewhat realistic manner, have greatpotential as sites for research in the social, behavioral, andeconomic sciences, as well as in human-centered computer science.This article uses Second Life and World of Warcraft as two verydifferent examples of current virtual worlds that foreshadowfuture developments, introducing a number of research methodologiesthat scientists are now exploring, including formal experimentation,observational ethnography, and quantitative analysis of economicmarkets or social networks."