Lectures that don’t cause ‘snooze control’

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Lectures that don’t cause ‘snooze control’

In an auditorium filled with a large audience, it’s tough to lecture with only a tiny red laser pointing pen.
Adding to the challenge, the projector enlarges the image on the screen, making the laser pointer appear miniscule to the naked eye. In addition, the distance between lecturer and screen makes the pointer hard to focus.
In the worst-case scenario, a prankster in the front row might turn his own laser pen on.
But what if the presenter could actually step onto the screen? A researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology in northern Seoul has pulled off a similar feat with “live avatar” technology.
Using live avatar, a lecturer can point his finger directly on the computer-generated image on screen, clarifying the point he is referring to without actually walking into the screen.
What’s more, in the three-dimensional visual image, the presenter’s virtual avatar can walk around the screen, adding more pizzazz to his presentation.
Let’s say someone wants to lecture on a Buddha statue found in a cave. The virtual figure in the screen can walk around the cave, pointing out various areas while displaying the cave and statue from different angles.
For several years, Internet users in Korea have used a similar avatar in chat rooms and community Web sites. In many cases, however, the avatars were cartoon characters with rigid movements. These avatars could not perform all of the gestures their master desired.
The live avatar from the institute has overcome that handicap; it moves according to the will of its master. It presents a three-dimensional image of the presenter.
The presenter can move the avatar on the screen using a thimble and an infrared camera linked to a computer.
The infrared camera catches the finger’s every movement via the thimble and executes the command.
“Soon this technology will serve a practical use for a new dimension of interface between human and computer,” says Kim Ik-Jae, a researcher at the institute’s Imaging Media Research Center.
With live avatar technology, someone can order his avatar to open and close windows on the computer screen. But they can also execute action through voice commands; presently, voice recognition technology can only recognize its owner.
With these twin technologies, it is possible to enjoy a realistic computer game. For instance, in a game involving blowing up falling balloons on the computer, all players must do is jump at the balloon’s virtual image to burst the balloons. This program also gives the user a decent workout.

by Park Bang-ju
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