It's all in the eyes.
Digital avatars are an important part of the virtual reality (VR) ecosystem, allowing users to chat and meet each other almost like they would in real life. It’s why Oculus Avatars were launched back in 2016 as a means of making social interaction more realistic. Today, that’s been taken a step further with a new update adding ‘Expressive Avatars’ as well as new customisation options.
Oculus Avatars have come a long way since 2016, with these new versions now able to simulate eye and mouth movement for that enhanced realism. For example, eye’s are highly important when talking to someone as they can display a whole range of emotions, turning a lifeless face into an expressive one. Up until now, Oculus has got around this by adding updates with eyewear, but with this update, the company aims to simulate a response.
Oculus’ headset’s don’t feature any eye tracking cameras inside so the Oculus Avatar team developed algorithms to accurately portray eye movement. Sophisticated models were built that allowed the team to codify these models of behaviour for VR, turning them into reactions that would seem as lifelike as possible.
It’s not just the eyes Oculus wanted to improve, lips are equally important when talking to another human being. So Oculus improved its lipsync technology to add even greater expression to a conversation. Before lips tended to just twitch to a users voice, now they behave and move in a more natural fashion.
Alongside the difficult job of trying to simulate emotions, Oculus has given users even more creative freedom over how their avatar looks. Enhanced personalization can now be achieved through new skin tones, lip and eyebrow colour, hairstyles, and clothing so that spending time with the growing VR community can be almost the same as real life.
Oculus Avatars are supported on Oculus Rift and Oculus Go, with the update going live today. The company does note on its blog that: “Over the coming days and weeks, a host of third party apps and games including Poker Stars VR, Tribe XR DJ, and Epic Rollercoaster will also update to support the new avatars”
So the face is almost sorted, now Oculus has to move from lifelike busts to full body avatars.