We’re officially one step closer to bringing the world of James Cameron’s Avatar to a reality. Researchers at Keio University in Japan have been developing technology making it able to communicate with someone over the Internet via a full facial movement animated avatars. That’s right! An on-screen animated avatar of your choosing could mimic and mirror your facial ticks and expressions in real-time.
Leading Team Avatar at Keio University is Professor Yasue Mitsukura who has developed this technology with only using a typical USB webcam. Professor Yasue Mitsukura feels the many uses of this technology can vary from anything from 3D animation rendering, online gaming or to simply communicate with someone on the Internet like Skype.
The technology was surprisingly simple to develop according to Geek.com. Using a typical USB webcam, the software Team Avatar developed maps out your face by giving certain parts of your face, like your eyes, ears, nose and mouth, tracking points. There are only 14 total tracking points that will correspond to your animated avatar. So when you smile, your avatar smiles. When you move your head left to right, your avatar moves its head left to right as well. It’s a little eerie to watch in action but it works.
One of the best things about this technology is that it seems fairly inexpensive to employ. Typical USB webcams these days are cheap. Most laptops or computers some times come with built-in webcams ready to use. The software is pretty accessible so maybe one day; we’ll get closer and closer to everyone having this technology at their fingertips.