Microsoft is looking into Xbox Live avatars that look more like their users and reflect their health condition, according to a new patent for "Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristics".
The patent, discovered by consumer site 1UP
, describes: "an Avatar generator for a virtual environment reflects a physiological characteristic of the user, injecting a degree of reality into the capabilities or appearance."
It adds, "Thereby, many of the incentives of the real world are replicated in a virtual environment." "Incentives" apparently refer to exercise, in a system where physical health and fitness can be linked to gaming rewards.
The patent also makes note of the "artificiality" of traditional avatars, describing them as a barrier to natural socialization because they provide users with only the simplest information about one another.
It's unclear how the avatars would reflect their users' health, appearance and mood in a more lifelike way, but references some kind of physiological sensor, according to the report.