A patent application filed by Microsoft details plans for avatars that would reflect an actual user’s health, by using third-party reports and first-party active monitoring techniques.
Named Avatar Individualized by Physical Characteristics (PDF), such an application, according to Microsoft, could lead to innovations such offering rewarding or unlocking items and areas in videogames based on physiological data that reflects “a degree of health in the real person.”
This would allow people to gleam more about each other online as well, eliminating false signals sent by typically fake avatar representations, or as Microsoft eloquently puts it, “People seeking to meet and become acquainted with particular types of people are not thwarted by the artificiality of avatars.”
An avatar’s health stats could be updated by data collection from “a third party health data collection repository, a healthcare smart card, a real-time physiological sensor (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, peak flow, pedometer, etc.”
Taking it a step beyond physical appearance, the application could also be expanded to include “The physical characteristics can be further extended to psychological traits associated with the physical person, including intelligence, religious beliefs, political affiliations, and hobbies that affect the rendering of an avatar.”
This idea would certainly lead to dramatic changes in the videogame space, but it could easily expand to just about every corner of the Internet if it's able to go from idea to reality.