[caption id="attachment_43299" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Camporesi controls the movements of an animated avatar on a large 'power wall' 3D screen in real time."][/caption]

In a dark room lit only by the razor-thin beams of infrared cameras, University of California at Merced graduate student Carlo Camporesi spends most days—and many nights—in the company of avatars.

This isn't the next big sci-fi movie in the making, or the latest Nintendo Wii video game. Camporesi is part of a research team working to solve a very real problem: how to overcome an expected shortage of physical therapists who...

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