As a consequence of my thesis research, which became more and more focused on the interrelationships between agents and the people who interact with them, I turned to the question of how people interact with, understand, and relate to their avatars, or autonomous agents which represent them on-line or in virtual environments. In my project on avatar interfaces, I analyzed the metaphors underlying current avatar technology and proposed new technology based on different metaphors - read all about it in my Fulbright Project Proposal!
One of the results of this project was my work on semi-autonomous avatars in the Traces system, a collaboration with Simon Penny, Jeffrey Smith, Andre Bernhard, and Jamie Schulte. In Traces, a person interacts in a CAVE immersive virtual environment with his or her own avatar representation, and potentially those of others in CAVEs connected over a network. The avatar starts out as a volume model of the user's body movements, which lingers in a 3-dimensional analog to stop-motion photography. It then gradually becomes more and more independent, spawning particles which over time develop their own behavior and interact with the user. Traces provides a rich framework in which to explore concepts of ``semi-autonomous'' avatars and their relationships to human users.
You can check out these mpeg movies of Traces at work:
Back to my work page.