Microsoft is considering the introduction of avatars that actually look like their users, judging by a patent application for "Avatar Individualised by Physical Characteristics".
The aim is to eliminate the "artificiality" of Avatars in order to encourage users to do some exercise, and also to make it easier for people to tell whether other players look the same as they portray themselves.
The patent application (reported by Eurogamer) says: "An Avatar generator for a virtual environment reflects a physiological characteristic of the user, injecting a degree of reality into the capabilities or appearance.
"Thereby, many of the incentives of the real world are replicated in a virtual environment.
"Physiological data that reflect a degree of health of the real person can be linked to rewards of capabilities of a gaming Avatar, an amount of time budgeted to play, or a visible indication.
Thereby, people are encouraged to exercise. Physiological data that reflect the health and perhaps also mood also improve social interaction in virtual environments.
"People seeking to meet and become acquainted with particular types of people are not thwarted by the artificiality of Avatars," the patent adds.
This data can apparently be "gleaned" from a third-party health repository, a healthcare smart-card or a physiological sensor such as those for blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels and so on.