Imagine a VR game where your avatar can laugh, smile or frown as you do while interacting with other players -- sounds fun, right? Well apparently, that kind of face-tracking tech already exists. Facebook's Oculus division has teamed up with University of Southern California researchers to develop a way to track your facial expressions while wearing a chunky VR headset. What they did was insert strain gauges within the the Rift's foam padding to monitor the movements of the upper part of your face. To monitor the lower part not covered by the headset, they attached a 3D camera to a short boom clipped to the center of the Rift. As you can see in the video below the fold, a virtual avatar successfully mimicked the expressions of their testers with that setup.
Project lead Hao Li believes the technology could make it more compelling to interact with others in virtual words; talking face to face, even as avatars, feels a lot more personal than text chats, after all. Unfortunately, Li told MIT's Technology Review that the Oculus team worked with him purely for research purposes. But he also said that in the future, it would be easy to turn this proof of concept into an actual product with loads of potential applications. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg once revealed that he's looking for new ways to socialize online -- he didn't mention anything specific, but this sounds like exactly what he's looking for.