Facebooka.k.a Meta has made a lot of big claims about its plans for the Metaverse, a virtual world where people can meet, play, and work. However, a recent patent filed by the company could introduce one of its plans to Metaverse users.
Players of virtual reality games like VRChat already enjoy creating custom avatars, changing their outfits, and customizing their virtual selves to express themselves. While some might like to pose as a digital avatar that looks nothing like them, this new patent seeks to bring a bit of the real world into the metaverse.
The Facebook patent was published in late July and reveals plans to develop a system that will allow users to upload their own clothes to the Metaverse. The system is designed so that multiple photos are taken of the user, which records data about the color, shape and design of what they are wearing as well as their body. This information is then taken and converted into a three-dimensional mesh based on the clothing and another based on the body underneath.
In computer graphics, a mesh is what makes up the underlying structure of a model, giving it its overall shape. It can then be further refined with the implementation of some texture maps, like normal maps. The patent mentions that it intends to create a ‘skin-clothing boundary’, which may imply that the clothing could even react to the user’s movements, with the boundary serving to prevent the clothing from cutting itself at through the body and break the immersion.
It’s an interesting prospect, though it remains to be seen if it works well in execution, or if it even happens. Other programs and games have struggled to implement realistic 3D face scans from images or videos, but over time this is starting to change. The idea of uploading an actual outfit that someone owns in real life may appeal to some, though the likelihood of an average user wanting to travel to the metaverse to converse with strangers who look exactly like them seems low.
However, this may not be the intended use of this technology. The Metaverse has also been repeatedly promoted as providing a method of communicating with colleagues remotely and the ability to spend time with distant friends and family. Looking like yourself in these cases would probably be helpful and welcomed by many.
The Metaverse has already seen some controversy with users feeling harassed, and it’s unclear when it will truly be fully utilized. Meta continues to lose money in its virtual reality division, but it’s clear that progress continues to be made in developing technologies that will make the Metaverse more appealing and useful for a variety of user types.
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