If flat surface doesn’t cut it anymore, then the Kinect has provided users with the ability to animate an avatar head projected on to a spherical display (Magic Planet – http://www.globalimagination.com/). The result then is a full-dimensional display of the avatar’s head.
As part of the EU Beaming Project – http://beaming-eu.org/, we programmed a digital avatar to be displayed to an electronic sphere. The Kinect handles the head tracking of the user, properly adjusting the image on the sphere based on the user’s orientation. In this video, the Magic Planet Display shows the digital image of the head of several avatars moving to Michael Jackson’s black or white. If the user tilts his head, the image of the sphere follows.
A lot of possibility in terms of communication can be made with the Magic Planet and the Kinect. Instead of just flat surfaces, users can interact with a display that is shaped like a human head, adding depth and realism to the conversation in teleconferencing.
The eyes can also be animated, driven by an eye tracker (although not shown in the video). Notice the lip sync towards the end of the video though!
Here is a thought — Could robots of the future look more realistic with spherical display heads?