Exploring the Future of Photo-Realistic Avatar Creation
What makes a good digital avatar? Is it a lifelike resemblance? Or do people prefer the cartoon versions that are currently available on the market?
These are the questions that every major tech company is currently considering as they approach the future of avatar creation. But there still seems to be a lack of consensus among developers, tech giants, and the consumer base.
From Snapchat’s Bitmoji and Apple’s Animoji, to Google’s Allo and Samsung’s new AR Emoji, which was recently released in conjunction with the S9 Galaxy, avatar creation is a discipline and field with so many variables and looks; however, given the existing and limited data sample, it appears that every company is taking a similar approach, opting for cartoonish representations.
It’s a trend that LA-based Possible Reality is looking to change.
“Current avatar offerings fail to capture user’s attention because, well, they’re boring. They are all very cartoon looking, but our photo-realistic avatars will help bridge the gap between what is available for users and what they are asking for,” explains Ryan Isbell, founder of Possible Reality, an AR studio that is currently cracking the code to lifelike avatar creation.
Cross-referencing a recent episode of Circuit Breaker, there appears to be minimal enthusiasm for the current state and look of avatars. From a lack of diversity in skin tone and clothing, to limited functionality and practical use beyond texting and messaging, avatars have yet to achieve a photo-realistic quality. Even Microsoft, which recently announced its new Xbox Live avatars and official avatar store, is pushing a product with almost no lifelike resemblance, which is already starting to create a disgruntled user base.
With Verge writer Ashley Carman calling the current options a “nightmare” in a recent piece entitled “Everyone’s making digital avatars, and none of them are great,” Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel joined in, taking a direct shot at Animoji, stating that “this is actually a killer creativity tool that is, in sort of classic Apple Fashion fashion, just, like, harder to use, and harder to share, than it should be.”
Fortunately, a new solution is already in development, courtesy of Isbell and Possible Reality.
“Right now our photo-realistic avatars are on par with what you would see in FIFA 18 or Far Cry 5. These are high-detail avatars that have the closest resemblance to humans, without looking weird,” adds Isbell. “Essentially, the user can create their avatar with a single two-dimensional photo that serves as an empty canvas. The lifelike facial image is affixed to a digital body, naked and bald, and we offer a large variety of choices in hair style, clothing, and accessories.”
Utilizing proprietary face-mapping technology that allows users to create a 3D avatar directly from a single 2D photo, Possible Reality’s INTARACT app aims to become an industry leader in digital personal assets, not only with lifelike visuals, but also with an array of customizable clothing and accessory options. And beyond photo-realistic avatar creation, INTARACT also provides solutions for the implementation and integration of avatars in multiple environments and platforms.
Unlike Samsung’s AR Emoji or Animoji, which are limited to messaging functionality, or Allo’s “selfie stickers,” Possible Reality is not merely focused on the creation of better avatars, but also creating unique environments, from sporting greens to zombie fields, where avatars can live, play, and participate.
Further envisioning a virtual environment where avatars can utilize artificial intelligence to improve performance, Isbell foresees instant application to the gaming environment; pretty soon INTARACT avatars will be able to cross over to sporting games, allowing users to play alongside their favorite athletes or enter any number of scenarios. And these are the sort of creative solutions that will eventually push avatar creation technology into its next generation.
“What we are doing at Possible Reality is giving the user total control over the look and design of each avatar, as well as creating environments where users can have their avatars interact with themselves and other users,” states Isbell. “We’ll provide more and more outlets to use their avatars in games, social interaction, messaging, and masks.The point is, users would like more control over their own avatar representation as well as input to its design”
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