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.
"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.
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.