Facebook has shown off an advanced demo of social interaction in a virtual space at its F8 conference, which included avatars capable of facial expressions as well as making hand gestures.
Virtual reality is an exciting new technology and Facebook wants in, completely, as evident by Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of a virtual space where people could just hang out. The company knows that it could benefit a lot from this new virtual world and it is trying everything to be the first one to do it.
Their avatar-based social hangout space is based on Toybox VR. It is a social sandbox where two persons can work together to build blocks, play ping pong, or even team up to take out targets in a virtual shooting gallery. But Toybox was pretty limited; it just showed a player just as an anonymous blue head with a pair of blue arms that could float around in mid-air, unattached to a body.
Facebook wants to make it much more detailed! Their new demo features avatars that can also be customized to add details like facial hair, glasses, etc. Since Facebook’s VR (Oculus Rift) is not capable of tracking your facial features, they’ve also developed a workaround that tracks a person’s lip motion to enable basic mouth movement. It can combines signals from your voice, head, and hand position to recognize and render a few basic moods, like “smiling,” “confused,” “skeptical,” or “listening”.
To make it a full experience, they’ve also algorithmically approximated arm and body positions by tracking the position of the head and hands.
Virtual reality is the next big thing, and all the technology giants know it. As Google and Samsung have focused on VR for mobile devices, companies like Facebook (with Oculus) and Microsoft (with HoloLens) are betting on a whole new dimension.
Image Credits— TechSpot