For Third-Party Developers, Microsoft’s Xbox Live Avatar Launch Signals a Movement Towards Realistic Personal Digital Assets

Photo Courtesy of  Flickr / MoreInterpretations

Microsoft is finally unveiling its new Xbox live avatars, and it’s major news for third-party developers.

Recently announcing an April 2018 release date for their new line of personal digital assets, Microsoft is placing an emphasis on customization for their improved avatars, which will be widely integrated into the the Xbox One dashboard and homescreen area. Building on the original avatar line, which was introduced in 2008 alongside the Xbox 360, the new product launch serves as a prelude to the May 2018 opening of Microsoft’s official avatar store, where users can buy a range of products to customize their digital personas.

It’s expected to be a watershed moment in the history of avatar creation, as users now have more customization options than ever before, from props and clothing, to exclusive items that will be rolled out with regularity. Still, many third-party developers believe that Microsoft could be doing more to push the boundaries of avatar creation.

“Having a top tier gaming system open up the customization of avatars is great for third-party developers like us,” offers Ryan Isbell, CEO and founder of Possible Reality, an LA-based AR studio focusing on photo-realisitc avatar creation and facial mapping technology. “We’re always happy to hear about the release of new avatars and features like diversity in character creation and increased customizable options, but Microsoft is missing out by just having their avatars solely on the home screen area. They could be doing so much more in regards to integrating avatars into all of their products.”

Envisioning an augmented e-commerce marketplace where avatar creation seamlessly meshes with social media and product integration, Isbell and Possible Reality aim to take avatars beyond the cartoonish looks of contemporary personal digital assets with INTARACT, their flagship application. And with alpha testing set of to begin next quarter, Possible Reality is bringing a true lifelike quality to the future of avatar creation.

Microsoft is missing out by just having their avatars solely on the home screen area. They could be doing so much more in regards to integrating avatars into all of their products.
— Ryan Isbell, Possible Reality

Although it’s come with its fair share of technical hurdles.

“The advancement and implementation of avatar technology is more intricate than many understand,” comments Isbell. “Creating life-like avatars is, by nature, very difficult, which is why we see more and more avatars these days looking cartoonish and less realistic … we’re really out to push the boundaries of personal digital assets.”

Unlike existing avatar creation technologies and applications, Possible Reality’s INTARACT brings users, and their life-life avatars, into any number of augmented worlds. But in order to get to the finish line, Possible Reality Chief Creative Officer Michael Tigar has been experimenting with platform development, third-party SDK reliance, photo-to-mesh porting, Unity 3D integration, facial tracking, and Delaunay Triangulation to achieve VFX and video game quality from a single digital photo.

Microsoft's new avatars remain cartoonish in nature

Microsoft's new avatars remain cartoonish in nature

And, as Isbell continues to emphasize, “there is a need and demand for photo-realistic looking avatars that isn’t really being serviced by, well, anyone.”

Simultaneously placing an emphasis on facial mapping and the creation of 3D environments, Possible Reality’s INTARACT transports users and their avatars directly into any number of video game scenarios, while enhancing the experience through social media connectivity. It’s a unique value proposition in AR and avatar creation, and Possible Reality foresees the eventual opening of Microsoft’s avatar store to third-party developers as an essential step in the growth of the technology.

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Possible Reality Inc.