May 24, 2004

Bruce Damer of DigitalSpace and Maarten Sierhuis of NASA were quoted in the Wall Street Journal in a special article by Jeanette Borzo: Almost Human: Using avatars for corporate training, advocates say, can combine the best parts of face-to-face interaction and computer-based learning (WSJ Membership required). We present the relevant excerpt below:

A Glimpse of the Future

Even more realism is expected in avatar-based training in the near future. Avatar-based training used in military and space-exploration training already involves far more-realistic, three-dimensional views and avatar movements than what can be seen now on corporate desktops.

"Eventually this technology comes down to industry,' says Bruce Damer, president and chief executive officer at DigitalSpace Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., which is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on avatar programs. 'It trickles down.'

One simulation developed by DigitalSpace and NASA represents life in the polar conditions of Mars. You can enter the virtual environment as an avatar that isn't part of the simulation, to simply observe the living and working conditions, says Maarten Sierhuis, a NASA scientist. In another mode, he says, 'you can participate as one of the crew members in the simulation, working alongside and together with other avatars. We envision that this is more the training model that we aspire to create.'";

This excerpt is (c) 2004 Copyright Wall Street Journal, All Rights Reserved.