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How's this for having your job outsourced by technology? Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University believe that new innovations in tech mean that digital avatars could soon take the place of real humans – fashion models included.
The researchers combined 3D body scanning and Hollywood motion capture technology to create lifelike virtual models, one of which has been dubbed 'Ava' by Science Daily. (Because you can't launch a supermodel without a first-name only moniker, obvs.)
Fashion brands have used digital models in their runway shows before, but these are usually based on existing supermodels – most famously, Kate Moss appeared as a hologram in Alexander McQueen's AW06 show.
Instead, the production method pioneered by the researchers has allowed them to birth what they describe as uber-realistic "hybrid avatars", which can be dressed up and altered however you please.
According to a press release from Manchester Metropolitan University, these "near-faultless copies" can be "digitally dressed in the latest haute couture and their movements recorded, ready to instantly appear in Milan or Paris".
That's right – unlike regular humans, virtual models don't need to do all that running back and forth between shows. They don't eat or sleep. They don't need aeroplane tickets to Milan. And they'll never miss a call time (unless your computer battery runs out).
Researchers say that the technology is still in its infancy, but they're keen to stress that it will have interdisciplinary applications beyond fashion – they also see it working in areas like the performing arts and sports. Thanks for innovating us out of work, technology!
Would you want to see virtual models take over the catwalk?
Follow Zing Tsjeng on Twitter here @misszing