Microsoft Research Webinar | Avatars: Finding a sense of self and others in the virtual world
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Avatars: Finding a sense of self and others in the virtual world

Learn about how body perception changes user behavior in virtual worlds.

Advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality are moving us from experiences in which digital content is confined to screens toward experiences in which users are surrounded by the digital content. However, anyone who’s entered a VR platform realizes that while they may encounter hand renderings that enable content interactions, they’re missing a key aspect of their interaction with the real world: a body. Additionally, these virtual worlds are often underpopulated with other people, or avatars, the main representations of people in these virtual scenarios.

In this webinar, Microsoft Senior Researcher Dr. Mar Gonzalez-Franco explores rigged avatars—those with internal skeletons for easier, more realistic animations—and the potential for avatars to serve not only as opportunities for user engagement but also as a substitute for the user’s own body. Such a substitution could essentially provide the user with a sense of “self” in the virtual world. Gonzalez-Franco will walk through her experiments with avatars and embodiment illusion, users’ feelings of ownership of their virtual bodies. She’ll also discuss the open-source releases of Microsoft Rocketbox avatars and Movebox toolbox, resources for creating and animating avatars in more humanlike ways.

Together, you’ll learn:

  • The fundamentals of body perception and how body perception ultimately changes user behavior
  • The utility of using rigged avatars to replace users’ bodies inside VR
  • Applications of avatars, focusing on the wide range of experiments that can be done for the study of neuroscience, sociology, and psychology
  • The importance of tools to animate avatars for use in simulations and even to train AI systems

*This on-demand webinar features a previously recorded Q&A session and open captioning.