There are multiple initiatives across the VR industry attempting to provide the most immersive and involving social experience the platform can provide. Creators like Avi Shapiro of USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies are even working on ways to bring realistic avatars into VR content to enhance the immersion that much more. Shapiro’s project is technology that rapidly produces good avatars with accessible technology, but it has some work ahead when it comes to facial scans. Face and Communication Entertainment, or FACE, is a project from a Colopl company called 360ch that is building a social VR demo collaborating with BinaryVR, Facerig, and FOVE.
FACE is tackling avatars on three levels through technology from three companies to provide an expressive final product:
- Facerig’s 3D model rendering technology provides the foundation for expressive avatars
- The FOVE headset, which we covered recently during GDC, provides an eye-tracking solution
- Binary VR‘s face tracking camera records your own expressions so that they can be transplanted onto the 3D avatars
Social interaction is crucial for the future of VR and efforts that improve the potential of the platform are pivotal. Headsets and touch controllers already add a degree of fluid movement that improves the immersion of virtual spaces, but a tool such as FACE is another step toward us interacting naturally with people that are thousands of miles away from us.
Even beyond social VR, FACE could be used to produce realistic performances for characters that will be added to other forms of VR entertainment. It can also be used to analyze expressions and give developers valuable data as players work their way through their creations.