Most of us associate avatars with gaming. But despite much of the virtual world remaining a fantasy far away from reality, businesses are looking at how to implement the technology to improve professional life.

From virtual offices to classrooms to embassies, environments that mimic the real world are becoming simpler to create.

Dan Simmons investigates whether avatars and virtual reality are increasing in importance.

The Robots and Avatars exhibition runs until 27 May 2012 at FACT, Liverpool and tours Romania, Slovenia, France and then the Asia Pacific region from 2012 to 2014.

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