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Facebook Develops VR Avatars with Real-time Interactivity

The Facebook team will demonstrate their VR real-time facial animation system at “SIGGRAPH 2019”, which is set to be held in Los Angeles between July 28-August 1

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FILE - A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration, Aug. 3, 2018. VOA

In a bid to make virtual reality (VR) experience highly believable, researchers from Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) have developed a revolutionary system called “Codec Avatars” that gives VR users ability to interact with others while representing themselves with life-like avatars precisely animated in real-time.

“Our work demonstrates that it is possible to precisely animate photorealistic avatars from cameras closely mounted on a VR headset,” said the study’s lead author Shih-En Wei, a research scientist at Facebook.

The researchers have configured a headset with minimum sensors for facial capture and their system enables two-way, authentic social interaction in VR.

The team said the VR system can animate avatar heads with highly detailed personal likeness by precisely tracking users’ real-time facial expressions using a minimum set of headset-mounted cameras (HMC).

“By comparing these converted images using every pixel–not just sparse facial features–and the renderings of the 3D avatar,” noted Wei.

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A visitor of Rome’s Circus Maximus is seen with a virtual reality visor. VOA

“we can precisely map between the images from tracking headset and the status of the 3D avatar through differentiable rendering. After the mapping is established, we train a neural network to predict face parameter from a minimal set of camera images in real time,” Wei added.

Besides animating the avatars in VR, Facebook’s team is also building systems that may enable people to quickly and easily create their avatars from just a few images or videos.

Also Read: Vernacular Social Networking Platforms Spreading Vulgar Content in India

The Facebook team will demonstrate their VR real-time facial animation system at “SIGGRAPH 2019”, which is set to be held in Los Angeles between July 28-August 1.

The researchers will present an Artificial Intelligence (AI) technique based on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) that performs consistent multi-view image style translation to automatically convert HMC infrared images to images that look like a rendered avatar but with the same facial expression of the VR user. (IANS)

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Social Media Giant Facebook Rolls Out Meme-Making App ‘Whale’

Facebook has quietly rolled out a meme-making app called 'Whale' on the Canadian App Store

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Facebook quietly launched meme-making app Whale. Pixabay

Social media giant Facebook has quietly rolled out a meme-making app called ‘Whale’ on the Canadian App Store that may come to other markets including in India later.

The app’s listing confirms that it has been developed by Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team, which was set up earlier this year to develop new experimental apps for the social networking platform that has over 2.6 billion users globally.

‘Whale’ is the latest app from NPE, after music app ‘AUX’ and chat app ‘Bump’, reports The Information.

According to Facebook, these apps are intended to help the company discover new features and services that people like.

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According to Facebook, these apps are intended to help the company discover new features. Pixabay

Facebook is slowly launching apps in new genres beyond chats to woo more users and open new avenues to make money.

Facebook-owned Instagram has also launched a new video-music remix feature called “Reels” to take on Chinese short video making app TikTok.

Also Read-TikTok Owner ByteDance To Launch Its Own Music Streaming Service

“Just like TikTok, users can soundtrack their ‘Reels’ with a huge catalog of music, or borrow the audio from anyone else’s video to create a remix of their meme or joke.

Rolled out in the Brazilian market first, “Reels” will be available on both iOS and Android. (IANS)