Tuesday, September 18, 2007


People communicate in many ways. They write, speak, and they use facial and body language. People send email, write blogs, and express opinions in message forums.

An email address identifies the person who sent an email and a user name identifies a person in a forum. How do we identify a voice on the Internet? How do we place a face with a user name?

We use avatars to visually represent a person’s identity online. The avatar may be 2D, 3D, look like a cartoon, or be a high quality, realistic, 3D image that looks like the person it represents.

Avatars are important. Many online applications benefit when they use avatars. Many informational sites populate the Internet. Customers can learn from reading information. However, as people, we trust and validate information when we both hear it and see the person who is speaking that information. This is especially true for life-pertinent information, for example, medical, legal, or financial information.

The avatar must gain the customer’s trust. It is important that the avatar be as realistic as possible. The avatar must be high quality, have a high degree of realism, and must look like the person that is presenting the information. Would you trust medical, legal, or financial information from a cartoon talking head?

High quality and a high degree of realism increase the customer’s level of trust. When you look at the avatar while it is speaking, you need to feel comfortable. The facial expressions need to be serious and friendly. The eyes need to make direct contact with you. The character and emotions of the avatar need to fit the message the avatar is delivering.

An avatar that projects trust is a valuable asset to an online business.

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