Mark Zuckerberg was able to demonstrate his “Avatar Codec” technology for the first time and the result is very impressive. We are far from the Mii-style avatars unveiled last year and regularly mocked.
In August 2022, Meta launched Horizon Worlds in France, its metaverse platform. The problem: the graphics of the avatars and more generally of the 3D universes were not to the taste of Internet users. Which means that on social networks, the metaverse of Meta as well as Mark Zuckerberg have been mocked, to the point of becoming a meme. Probably upset, the company’s CEO has apparently doubled down on technology. He appeared on Lex Fridman’s podcast for an interview where the two interlocutors were in avatar. The result is impressive.
The metaverse is real, at least its graphics
The legs are now there, and the faces are more than realistic. “ It feels like we’re in the same room “, says Lex Fridman during the podcast, as reported Futurism. He goes even further: “ It’s truly the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. »
During an hour of conversation, the two men were not at all in the same place, but both equipped with Quest Pro headsets. Their avatars were gathered in the metaverse, displayed by a 3D portrait on a black background. They addressed several themes: the metaverse (although the word was not mentioned by Mark Zuckerberg), video games, virtual reality, etc.
A videoconference difficult to set up, but which could be the future
In order to carry out this interview, Lex Fridman and Mark Zuckerberg were modeled in 3D. The scans are deepened at the facial level to better convey facial micro-expressions. A very important element to give humanity to the avatars and above all not to make them seem strange. It took several hours and required hundreds of cameras.
It is the virtual reality headset that detects facial expressions and transmits them into avatars in real time. Mark Zuckerberg specifies that “ it can send a coded version of what you’re supposed to look like over the cable “. The technical explanation is that this method is more bandwidth efficient than sending a live video stream. This pushes the Quest Pro to its limits, but it seems to work.
It should be noted that the demonstration was not carried out live, probably for technical reasons again. In addition, we could question the expressions of Lex Fridman and Mark Zuckerberg: these two people were not very expressive. If this is part of their nature, it is unclear whether it was a necessity for the demonstration.
From Mii avatars to hyper-realistic models, there are still a few steps: it is still very expensive and requires equipment. But according to Mark Zuckerberg, the fast scanning technology used here should be feasible from a smartphone, although not without graphics limitations, we can assume.