Facebook Reality Labs is working on lifelike avatars of its users in a project called Codec Avatars. The company’s research division (formerly Oculus Research) has been working to create lifelike 3D clones of human faces to enhance the virtual reality (VR) experience.
The project uses a combination of 3D capture technology and AI systems, quickly building realistic avatars of users.
Oculus Chief Scientist Michael Abrash made the announcement via the Oculus Blog, also revealing that there will be a year-long series of posts revealing the work of Facebook Reality Labs.
“I expect these blog posts to be markers on the journey to the AR/VR future,” Abrash said.
“Over the coming months, you’ll see deep dives into optics and displays, computer vision, audio, graphics, haptic interaction, brain/computer interface, and eye/hand/face/body tracking.”
FRL director of research Yaser Sheikh explained in the first blog post that he wants to create new and better ways for people to sustain long distance relationships with friends and family.
“Most of us, myself included, don’t live in the places where we grew up,” he said. “I’ve spent my life moving from city to city, and each time, I’ve left relationships that are important to me.”
“Right now, proximity determines whom we have relationships with. The real promise of augmented reality and virtual reality is that it lets us spend time with whomever we wish and build meaningful relationships no matter where people live,” he added.
The project could allow people to create virtual avatars of themselves quickly and easily in the future, connecting through VR headsets and AR glasses.
Codec Avatars, appearing as floating heads, can talk to each other and replicate real facial expressions.
The company is still working to improve the avatars’ mouth details, their ‘expression quality’ and eye contact.
in 2017, Facebook pledged to invest $3bn in Social VR research.