Mark Zuckerberg says realistic avatars are Facebook’s next big VR bet

Future Facebook VR headsets should capture users’ facial expressions for more realistic digital avatars, says CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a podcast interview for Information, Zuckerberg spoke about the next decade in virtual and augmented reality, including future Oculus VR devices. “One of the things that I am really excited about for future releases is eye tracking and face tracking, because if you’re really excited about social presence, you have to make sure the device has all the sensors to really please lively, animated avatars. so you can communicate well like that, ”says Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg says that hardware changes are an important approach to avatar building. In VR, “the most important things that we’re very focused on right now is how to basically pack more sensors to create a better social experience on the device,” he says. “When I think about where you are with VR today, you go into the experience: there are some pretty good games and different experiences. But I would love to get to the point where you have realistic avatars of yourself, where you can make authentic eye contact with someone and have real expressions that are reflected in your avatar. “

Facebook has released multiple iterations of VR avatars, and Zuckerberg says a new generation of avatars is on the way later this year, with more realistic versions beyond that. He compared his desired quality to Epic’s MetaHuman tool, which allows animators to produce highly detailed virtual faces, but wants Facebook to generate these kinds of avatars through large-scale machine learning.

Otherwise, Information‘s The interview confirms several known areas of interest for Facebook. Zuckerberg indicates that Oculus is already envisioning “Quest 3 and 4” hardware, an indication that Facebook remains committed to Quest’s standalone virtual reality design for the near future. Facebook also has an active interest in augmented reality, with a pair of smart glasses launching later this year, but Zuckerberg reiterates that they won’t have standard AR visuals.

He also spoke about Facebook’s acquisition of CTRL-Labs, which makes bracelets that detect and interpret neural signals, a partial alternative to invasive brain-computer interfaces like Elon Musk’s Neuralink. “We don’t think people are going to want their heads drilled to use virtual or augmented reality,” says Zuckerberg. He points out that Neuralink has very real applications, particularly for medical technologies like limb prosthetics. “But ultimately I don’t think [that] it’s going to be part of a consumer product that will be offered soon. “

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