The research office of the internet’s hottest destination is using 3D capture technology and Artificial Intelligence systems to generate virtual avatars, according to what Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Facebook Reality Labs, located in Pittsburgh (USA), has revealed in his blog. This research makes it possible to create avatars for users from their own computer or smartphone, quickly, easily and effectively (since the company’s objective is to make them hyper-realistic).
Scientists try to achieve what they call “social presence,” a process they have been working on for years. “The idea is to bring the physical distance and make the creation of social connections in virtual reality as natural and common as the real world, “says research director FRL, Yaser Sheikh. The Facebook team is trying to make avatar movements natural and have them interact with others in virtual reality as they would in real life: gestures of surprise, joy, disappointment, anger etc. “The challenge is to create authentic interactions in artificial environments,” adds Sheikh .
The company has reported that generating this type of photorealistic avatar in real time will take a while (they talk about years). Catch studies are being done (one for the face and one for the body). Although at the moment researchers need large machines, the goal is to have these avatars generated with a mobile phone. The FRL laboratory uses capture systems equipped with cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, infrared illumination and microphones to capture the full range of human expression.
Today, the laboratory captures one gig of images per second to produce a database of physical features, but when the program becomes available, consumers will create their own avatars without prior study. Currently, it takes 15 minutes to measure the volume of a person and a large number of cameras are required. This process can be carried out from several snapshots or videos quickly and easily.
Also, if you have bulky hair, a long beard and a beak or some feature that makes you unique, do not worry. Facebook guarantees that all user features will be captured. “We have scanned people with slopes, dilated ears, nose piercings and really exaggerated hairstyles,” says Shoou-I Yu, a research scientist at the FRL.
The Challenge of Fakes
The company clarifies that there are still many challenges ahead. They face the problem of imitation or the act of recreating the appearance or voice of a person to deceive. Counterfeits are a threat to the telepresence project because “trust is intrinsically related to communication,” says FRL research director Yaser Sheikh. “If you hear your mother’s voice on a call, you think it’s her. You trust even though you perceive your voice through a loud, compressed, choppy microphone or transmitted over many kilometers, “he adds.
To avoid this type of cheating, the laboratory is studying possible filters to verify the identity of each user.