The University of East Anglia (UK) and FX-studio Weta Digital (NZ, Lord of the Rings, King Kong) created a a video conferencing solution that lets you change sex or race on the fly.

What used to take millions of dollars and years of work (see the posthumous performances of Oliver Reed in Gladiator or Brandon Lee in The Crow), can now be accomplished in just 150 milliseconds. The software is already used to conduct psychological experiments at three US universities:

Volunteers were asked to chat to one another in a video conference, but did not know if the face they saw was really that of the person they were talking with – or indeed if the other volunteer was seeing their own true face.

The results suggest that our body language during conversation is more reactive to that of others than it is to their physical appearance, says Theobald. “We’ve shown you can present a female as herself or as a male, and the other participant’s behaviour doesn’t change,” he says. The results will soon be published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

As someone on Hacker News remarked, “I can see this being used by cam-girl sites”. Sigh. I mean “Yay” for progress.