background image
and the support staff are separated by a great distance (and even a large time gap). In the
medical sector, avatars and agents are used to support virtual environments for providing
advice to the patients, and remote assistance to doctors who find themselves needing to
perform specialist procedures. Avatars have enabled the investigation of topics and situa-
tions that have not been possible because they would put humans at too great a risk.The
reconstruction of human behaviour in accident or hazardous situations and the testing of
alternative behaviour or response patterns have been made possible by avatar simulations.
All these uses are given in shortened, tabular form below:
In 2004, the growth of the avatar/agent market is expected to exceed that of the
e-service market by thirty per cent. Advances in speech recognition and synthesis will
enable virtual agents to `conquer' the communication technologies on the Internet.
Possible cultural heritage sector applications include:
- Tour guides in virtual exhibitions;
- Presentation of performance heritage with the reconstruction of traditional dances
and theatrical performances;
- The representation of visitors in online spaces where users benefit from a sense of
human presence;
- In conjunction with haptic interface and CAVE technology,
the tactile exploration
of models of objects which for conservation reasons visitors cannot handle;
- As mechanisms to enable the study of users of historical spaces and human interaction.
Cultural Agents
and Avatars
Mass media
Everyday computer tasks
Potential Application
Friendly communication with users
Help to disabled users
Customer support
Connectivity of offices on global scale
Bringing together information in a development team
Part assembly and disassembly in potentially dangerous
Operation of machinery/specialised equipment
Studying effects on humans (e.g. in simulation of accidents)
Simulating human presence in a particular environment
Virtual communities
Support groups
Medical advice environments
Virtual newsreaders
Tutoring systems
Help providers
Readers of e-mail
Readers of any other texts
See DigiCULT Technology Watch Report 1, in particular the sections on Virtual Reality and Human Interfaces
(pp. 95-116 and 117-148).
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