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Personal and Public Avatars

As the boundaries between virtual lives and physical lives thin and fade for an increasing number of people, the amount of their lives, their passions, their desires that are shared online grows. At the same time, professional interest in VR is at a level unprecedented at any time before, and steadily growing.

A significant portion of individuals have already felt squeeze as personal avatar lives clash with professional avatar lives. Their business may move into the same platform as they were engaged in personal activities on, or people with whom their personal avatar has heavily interacted with, may crop up on the same system as their business interests.

As the continuing uptake of VR by business accelerates, this situation is only going to become more common. This is frequently not a problem, unless the personal interests are the sort of thing that should be kept well, personal. Separate from the work persona entirely.

The other, is to keep the same account, but have two (or more) separate avatars.

Each avatar would have a separate 'friends' list. That is to say a list of people who could see it (or feel it in a haptic simulation). Perhaps that might be "Everyone not listed elsewhere". These then form the group of people who see that avatar, moulded over that person's movements, rather than the one other contacts see.

In this way, one group would see them in a business suit walking down the corridor, whereas a member of another group might see them all done up in leather, walking down the exact same corridor in the exact same way. The person's movements are no different, just the visage they present.

In order to complete the feeling for that person, they would have to choose one avatar to see themselves in for the moment, from those currently active. This is more necessary when extra sensory issues are involved.

Extra sensory Issues

In virtual environments, when feedback is predominantly visual, extra senses can be considered to be the other standard senses. Hearing, smell, touch. Hopefully, in the normal business environment, the taste of what you are wearing, is unlikely to be an issue, but if it is, it is dealt with in the same way as the others.

As the smell of an avatar, the feel of an avatar, the sound the clothes of an avatar make as it settles, are functions of that avatar, or of the components (such as clothes) around it, when an avatar is presented as being that person, then all these senses should be transmitted along with that avatar.

Touch however, remains a special problem.

Picture the below scenario if you will:

You have two avatars, both of which you are 'wearing'. One has a complex metallic swirl bangle on the upper arm over bare flesh. The other avatar has a suit jacket flowing down covering your arm. The virtual environment is a high-level business presentation with full telehaptics support.

Someone brushes your arm. They feel the soft wool of your jacket, and what feels like n arm underneath. What do you feel?

It's not an easy one to work out, at first glance, which might be the best one to actually have mapped onto your own nerves, so you 'feel' it. It might be either.

Actually, common sense takes over at this point. If you are brushed by someone whom your settings identify as having the business version of you, you should, when brushed, feel the feedback from the business avatar, lest you forget yourself and respond in a thoroughly embarrassing way to someone who was not expecting anything of the sort.

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