Role of anthropomorphic avatars in engineering presentations

Mridul Joshi*, Pat Banerjee, Sanjay Mehrotra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Virtual Reality (VR) promises many new possibilities in engineering presentations. This presentation gives an overview of current trends in VR and emerging roles of VR based anthropomorphic avatars in engineering education. Avatars or virtual humans represent simulation of human being on computers. It entails representation; movement and behavior of humans in all possible forms. VR based avatars open new dimensions in web based engineering presentations. Extending from the role of humanoid representation, avatars represent information sharing nodes. Apart from acting as a point of information delivery they also enhance the sense of presence of real presenter. Initial studies fail to establish if the "Enhanced Realism" will definitely improve the effectiveness of presentations as the presence of avatar may distract viewer's attention from the subject. However the motivational value of enhanced realism is high enough to keep the viewer involved in the presentation. Success of the computer game industry can be a relevant example of the same. Presence of avatar offers a promising enhancement in desktop-based VR presentations as it can offer an effective alternative to video conferencing as well. We extend the scope of this work by introducing a desktop-based virtual reality tool IVRI Presenter that gives the user freedom to choose and customize an avatar for developing an avatar-based presentation. The scope of customization includes but is not limited to the choice of avatar's/presenter's appearance, voice (pre-recorded human voice versus computer simulated voice), and limb movements. Ability to integrate existing PowerPoint presentation images as well as video clips into a computer simulated virtual presentation along with the variation in the viewing characteristics of the presentation such as viewpoints and camera angles may add to the enhancement of presentation quality and effectiveness. Another feature of IVRI Presenter enables users to effortlessly record a movie output file of the virtual presentation for future viewing for clients, co-workers, or students. A few potential reasons to use online collaboration and web based distance learning over conventional methods include: (i) motivational value; (ii) time and cost of organizing a class and inviting students to it at a pre-assigned time; and (iii) choice of a subject unsuitable for classroom learning. The use of VR can be encouraged in situations when: (i) detailed and/or close examination of a subject (objects or phenomenon) is required; (ii) three-dimensional (3D) imaging is a necessity for the subject and/or actual viewing of the subject in a class or lab is not possible owing to the size (too big or too small) or otherwise unsuitable due to the hazard involved; and (iii) learning of engineering concepts involving physical properties of subject relating to strength and failure characteristics that may not be possible to effectively convey otherwise. IVRI Presenter offers the needed functional capabilities to suffice for an avatar based virtual reality presentation tool and has the potential to be deployed as a web based online presentation application based on the above mentioned requirements. The efficacy of such a tool as a distance learning application is still a subject to review, work is in progress to explore the possibility and deploy the tool at a university based online learning program to further evaluate the capability of the tool in fulfilling the fundamental requirements of a VR based presentation application integrated with a web based online learning program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2004
EventIIE Annual Conference and Exhibition 2004 - Houston, TX, United States
Duration: May 15 2004May 19 2004


OtherIIE Annual Conference and Exhibition 2004
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHouston, TX


  • Avatar
  • VR based presentation
  • Virtual reality
  • Web based learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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