Tagged With avatars

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When I joined Friendster in 2003, I uploaded my first avatar. It was Chuck Close's undeniably gritty and terrific "Big Self-Portrait" from the 1960s, dangling cigarette and all. When I joined Facebook a year later, I used the same one. Friends I hadn't seen for ages thought my life had taken a turn.

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If you saw James Cameron's Avatar and thought it looks like a wise and wonderful way of existing in the world, a Russian dreamer named Dmitry Itskov is the man you want to know. His "2045 Initiative" is a modern, multibillion dollar answer to mortality — or so he hopes.

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Xbox's Avatar Kinect is pretty wild: It tracks and replicates your facial expressions with surprising precision. Which probably made you think about having a more realistic Avatar reppin' yourself owning up 12-year-olds in Halo, or something. But Microsoft Research's Photo-Real Talking Head project, which uses 2D photos to make a photo-realistic 3D model of a face with the same kind of emotional range, shows why that's a terrible idea.

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Video: Avatars in the new Xbox experienceAs part of The New Xbox Experience, an Xbox 360 firmware update coming at an undisclosed date, Microsoft has taken a lesson from Nintendo and added 3D cartoon avatars to the mix. In this clip, you can see just how robust the creation is—far more detailed and customisable than a Mii—though we can't help but to wonder if Miis resemble people so well specifically because they lack detail. Then again, the Xbox avatars burp on command. And that's good for something.

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Here's what we just learned from Microsoft in their round table discussion on Xbox Live and the new Dashboard. First, the impetus for re-designing the dash was that the current content navigation is too difficult. They only planned on a couple hundred/thousand items, but they currently have 20,000+ pieces of content in their marketplace. There needed to be a change, and the change is the streamlined dash. Here's what else we found.