Meshes conquer avatars and is not only about Second Life. Linden Lab has recently announced that it has updated its 24 basic avatars “to give new users a more appealing set of choices as they start their time in Second Life”. If you wanna see the new avatars available (a part of which appear sin the image courtesy of Linden Lab) and you use the official viewer of Linden Lab, just open the Avatar Selector, go to the People menu and you can choose from nice male or female models to vampires, monster, zombies and whatever else you prefer. Please note that if you still prefer the old avatars or if you have low performance graphics cards, you can still choose an old avatar: if you do not see them available in the Avatar Selector you can still find them in inventory-clothing-previous outfits.
Apart from Linden Lab, very interested in developing avatars, using the meshes, is the Us Army: the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711 Human Performance Wing (to whose courtesy we owe the pictures you see below) is drafting new avatars using, of course, 3D scanners and meshes to create high dedinition avatars to be used in simulations and training through video games. In this case to create the meshes the researchers of the Us Air Force first reproduce a real human body using a body scanner formed by a ring of cameras aligned around the subject. Each camera takes a picture, thus producing a cloud of points on the body, connecting them with lines gives the digital reproduction (mesh) of the subject.
To recreate the movement, however, is used technique similar to that of the digital 3D animated movies: a series of reflective stickers are placed on the body of the subject and the cameras pick up the movement of these stickers when the subject moves, so being able to reproduce digitally (the same technique, incidentally, has been used to realize the sequences in which appears the character of Gollum in the movie The Lord of The Ring, directed by Peter Jackson).
Use 3D scanners to create mesh avatars and cameras to capture and reproduce the movement can reach levels of realism not only far higher than those of Linden Lab, but also of the top performing videogames not only as regards the movements, but also of bodies and avatar’s clothing. In fact, to hear the engineers involved in this project, one of the problems that prevents a more rapid adoption of these new avatar is the fact that the trading platforms and graphics engines of video games and virtual worlds (if you remember the Us Army has experienced for a long time Second Life for its simulations) still can not support this level of realism.
I wonder if the next successful startup that will not be able to let us use photo realistic avatars in our favorite games. For now I suggest you to keep in touch and continue to follow Mondivirtuali.it, as well as our Twitter account and our Facebook fanpage (but you can find us even on Flickr, on Scoop.it and on Paper.li).