MS patents Avatars that look like their owners

Elimination of "artificiality" being considered to encourage users to exercise

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.

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Latest comments (3)

Bastian Nehrke Localisation Producer, Nintendo of Europe10 years ago
This has so much potential. Thinking of all the possibilites and the positive side-effects that this could have on an entire generation of gamers has a very exciting taste.
Just currently I don't really see that fit into the MS portfolio at all, while it looks almost like a natural addition to the line-up of a well-known competitor *cough* ;-)

Is this just a patented idea? Or is there actually something 'real' behind it?
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James T. Johnson President/CEO, CowBell Games Bunch, Inc.10 years ago
I don't see how they can possibly be granted a patent for realistic avatars. Not only do people currently make avatars that look like themselves on consoles, handhelds and various mmo platforms and titles, but companies like EA already let users create avatars based on uploaded photos, which are then taken through Game Face and used as in-game models. That said, our patent laws are so messed up, I'm surprised someone hasn't patented the sky being blue.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games10 years ago
I do not think they patented the likeness of the avatars, but certain ways your likeness affects gameplay and interactivity.

I can only start thinking of the possibilities of the integration of such feature in games. I would love to design a game with this feature in mind. Sounds very exciting!

I guess Natal will enable this feature by somehow "scanning" your body shape and mass (?) sounds really cool!
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