At this years online only SXSW, Facebook’s Mark Rabkin, VP of Oculus, presented the crowd with a sneak peak of their new VR avatars.
In a presentation with Scott Stein of CNET, Rabkin spoke about the new avatar system that they are developing alongside their VR social platform, Horizon. Horizon has been in a closed, invite only beta for almost a full year and it looks like it is inching ever closer to an official release.
The avatars will release first on the Horizon app and then it will be released to develops if they want to integrate it in any of their apps. This looks like an attempt to unify the whole Quest ecosystem.
In the chat, Rabkin spoke about the uncanny valley they encountered when creating the avatars and social system:
“There’s a very interesting tension on our teams right now between taking some of the cues from the real world, and social stuff, or stuff that may be just instinctive for people and building it into the products and experiences we have and then, exploring on the other side, what should the new norms be? Because the laws of physics, in some ways, are different in virtual worlds…we’re thinking about sound. We’re thinking about interruption. We’re thinking about space. We’re thinking about distance. How close is too close? How far is too far?”
One of the interesting things to come out of the event is the quality of the mouth movements on the avatars. Oculus does not have their own mouth tracking hardware, so it is safe to assume that this is all being done on the software end. While it may not be able to track non-verbal mouth movements, the way that it syncs up with speech is impressive and definitely made me think twice about picking up the newly announced HTC tracker.