Facebook prepares virtual users. The research office of the social network is using 3D capture technology and Artificial Intelligence systems to generate virtual avatars, according to has revealed in his blog Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Facebook Reality Labs, located in Pittsburgh (USA). This research makes it possible to create avatars for users from their own computer or smartphone, that is, 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 physical distance closer and make the creation of social connections in virtual reality as natural and common as those in the real world," says FRL research director Yaser Sheikh. The Facebook team tries to make avatars movements are natural and interact with others in virtual reality as it would happen 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 avatars in real time and photorealistic require time (they talk about years). Catch studies are being done (one for the face and one for the body). Although at the moment the researchers need large machines, they work so that the avatars are 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.
Although at the moment the researchers need large machines, they work so that the avatars are generated with a mobile phone.
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 is required. This process can be carried out from several snapshots or videos quickly and easily.
Also, if you have a very bulky hair, a long beard and a beak or some feature that makes it unique, do not worry. Facebook guarantees that all the features of the users are captured. "We have scanned people with slopes, dilated ears, nose piercings and really exaggerated hairstyles," says Shoou-I Yu, 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. The fakes are a threat to the project of telepresence because "trust is intrinsically related to communication," says FRL research director Yaser Sheikh. "If you listen to 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 the possible filters to verify the identity of each user.