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Oculus Rift Hack Transfers Your Facial Expressions onto Your Avatar

May 20, 2015 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by Tom Simonite / MIT Technology Review

Facebook teams with researchers to transfer your smiles and frowns into virtual reality.

Virtual reality is set to get a vital dash of social reality.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and Facebook's Oculus division have demonstrated a way to track the facial expressions of someone wearing a virtual-reality headset and transfer them to a virtual character. That could make for much more rewarding socializing, work, or play in virtual worlds, because the expression of a virtual body double or otherworldly avatar could perfectly mimic that of a person's real face.

The system tracks the motion of a person's mouth using a 3-D camera attached to the headset with a short boom. Movements of the upper part of the face are measured using strain gauges added to the foam padding that fits the headset to the face. After the two data sources are combined, an accurate 3-D representation of the user's facial movements can be used to animate a virtual character, whether that's an ersatz person or something other than human (see video).

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