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Recent progress in advanced video communication services and multimedia applications is grounded on novel human machine interfaces, improved usability, and user friendliness driven by user centric research and development. In this paper, we describe a complete system concept and algorithmic details of an example application within this area. The key features of the system are vision and speech based interfaces, which are used to animate an avatar for an audio-visual representation of a communication partner. The system is applied in two application scenarios, namely video chat and customer care services. Both applications are mass-market oriented and therefore careful design and development of robust and supporting user interfaces are required. The presented approach is integrated into a complete real-time prototype system, which is permanently demonstrated in the showcase at the head quarter of Deutsche Telekom, Bonn, Germany.