The progression in the representation of users in virtual reality (VR) has come a long way since the first days, but Facebook wants it to go further.
During the key session of day 2 at F8 2018, Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer took a few minutes to analyze how the company is working to develop increasingly realistic VR avatars, which represent users when they use products like Oculus Rift and Oculus Go.
An area where Facebook has improved is in the mouth tracking, aided by the advances in artificial intelligence (AI) of the company and virtual reality technologies.
By more closely matching users' actual mouth movements when they speak, digitally rendered avatars seem more realistic.
But, Schroepfer said, the avatars are not yet indistinguishable from reality, and to that end he said that Facebook is working on representations of realistic users that are made in real time thanks to artificial intelligence.
As you can see in the image above, the Facebook cartoon avatars are replaced by much more realistic representations, although there is still something computerized about the representations that prevents them from looking truly real .
However, these new avatars may capture expressions that cartoons simply can not, allowing users not only to express themselves more accurately in a virtual reality space, but also to allow deeper connections with other users.
Of course, you go too far in photorealism, and you enter a strange valley territory, so it's a fine line that Facebook will have to walk to create avatars that more accurately represent its virtual reality users.
Schroepfer did notice that this work is still in the early stages, so it is likely that we are within walking distance before the photorealistic avatars begin to appear in the Oculus Rooms and Facebook Spaces experiences.
Project Santa Cruz-in & # 39;
Schroepfer also offered a quick mockery of one of the most intriguing products in the Facebook and Oculus roadmap: Santa Cruz Project.
Schroepfer said that independent wireless headphones are in the hands of third-party developers at this time and that Facebook will have "exciting updates" to share later this year.
It left it that way, but the "later this year" time would be aligned with the Oculus Connect conference , which usually takes place in October.
We would not be surprised at all to see a final version of the Santa Cruz Project revealed then, and possibly have the headphones on sale at that time.
We tested the Santa Cruz Project (probably a code name) on Oculus Connect last year and were impressed with its ability to track him through a room and its lack of cable. This allowed an almost total freedom of movement without a significant drop in the quality of the experience.
The independent Oculus Go has just gone on sale, and while it offers affordable and accessible VR, we still have our eyes on Project Santa Cruz and the virtual reality experience it promises to offer.