Description

An avatar is at its most simple, an on screen image representing a person, technology or organisation online. Most often this is a face with human characteristics although full body avatars or non-human representations are also used.

 

 

Introduction 
An avatar is at its most simple, an on screen image representing a person, technology or organisation online. Most often this is a face with human characteristics although full body avatars or non-human representations are also used.

Examples

  • Providing an online face for anonymous discussions on social networking sites such as SecondLife.
  • Providing a changeable face for healthcare examples such as FRANK drugs mugs aimed at teenagers and young adults
  • Humanising online interactions and providing a friendly face for AI, as technology becomes more dominant- a more friendly interface may be required such as IKEA’s Anna
  • Can be used in forums or chatrooms such as this mental health example to express emotions or feelings that may not be easy to verbalise
Benefits
  • Can provide an approachable face and interface for a computer system
  • Can provide anonymity but give some idea of personality for users of web forums or social networking sites
  • Full body avatars can be used to show demonstrations of how to do things such as exercises or application of creams
Risks
  • Anonymity can contribute to malicious behaviour
  • People not used to avatars may find them silly
  • When developing original or complex avatars there may be a cost barrier.
 

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Armchair Involvement Guide 2009 

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