New software developed by Oddcast allows sites to offer a service to users that will take a 2D profile picture and render it into a fully 3D avatar. The results are quite impressive, and creepy. Right now, the company is selling this software to other sites for installation, but I tried a demo on the company website.
First, you upload a picture of yourself and indicate your gender. After the photo is processed, you'll be asked to align your photo according to an example. Then comes the wireframing, the tweaking of physical features (not all are available in the demo) and, finally, adding audio. Once that's all done, you'll be left with a three dimensional model of yourself (or whoever you used to make the photo) that can even talk like you. Pretty sweet!
The avatars all have moving facial features, and additional features come with the software for installation. Site owners can give users the ability to upload .mp3 files or do voice capture over microphone to give their avatar speech. You can also add speech via phone call, text-to-speech, or premade samples. There's also facial morphing, accessories, and the ability simulate aging and racial profile.
While there is no practical application for this software unless you buy and install it on your own site, I had a fun time trying out the different features. After a little tweaking, my resulting avatar really does look a lot like me! All of the audio capture features worked perfectly, as well. You can check out my avatar (with bad audio) here. Go make one of yourself, now! Link us in the comments, and no impersonating!