With animation software and technology enhancements avatars used in augmented reality and virtual reality environments as companions, tutors, and online cartoon-like friends, animation is certainly uniting the real world with an imaginary one. Some of the greatest uses of artificial intelligence software is used in animation and VR environments.
As for a human assistant VR companion, Carnegie Mellon University is doing some work on this, as they also had some funding about 5-years ago to develop assistants that could read manuals and repeat them in laymen's terms for mechanics working on high-tech equipment , walking them through the process.
Indeed, I bet we could use some of their research to see if we can accelerate various uses of animation concepts in the virtual environments of the future. Perhaps, bringing some of this obvious reality of future periods to fruition on a shorter time-line.
Animated characters that are close to real life people would be a smart step in getting humans used to participating with such computer generated systems treating them like people, as that will be the next step for us as we progress with such technologies. Many science fiction authors have discussed such probable futures, and it appears we are nearly there.
The Virtual World and Animated world are one, both created by man for man, and they are becoming more and more like the real world, soon some scientists believe they will merge. Why? Well for many reasons such as entertainments, relaxation, instruction and companionship. Please consider this, will it be part of your reality too?