Facebookaka Meta has made many 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 may introduce one of the plans to Metaverse users.
Players in virtual reality games like VRChat already enjoy creating custom avatars, changing outfits, and otherwise customizing their virtual selves to express themselves. While some may like to disguise themselves as a digital avatar that doesn’t look like them, this new patent tries to bring a bit of the real world into the Metaverse.
The Facebook patent, published in late July, reveals plans to develop a system that allows users to upload their own clothes to Metaverse. The system is designed so that several pictures are taken of the user, which records data about the color, shape and design of what they are wearing, as well as the 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 constitutes the underlying structure of a model, giving it its overall shape. It can then be further refined with the implementation of certain texture maps, such as regular maps. The patent mentions that it intends to create a “skin-clothing boundary”, which could mean the clothing could even respond to the wearer’s movements, with the boundary serving to prevent the clothing from cutting through the body and breaking immersion.
It’s an interesting prospect, although it remains to be seen how well it works in execution, or if it even comes to fruition. Other programs and games have struggled to implement realistic 3D face scans from photos or video, but as time goes on, that is starting to change. The idea of uploading an actual outfit that someone owns in real life may appeal to some, although the likelihood that the average user will go to the Metaverse to talk to strangers who look exactly like themselves seems low.
However, that may not be the intended use of this technology. Metaverse has also been repeatedly promoted as offering a method of communicating with colleagues remotely and the ability to hang out with friends and family who are far away. Looking like one’s real self in these cases is likely to be useful and welcomed by many.
Metaverse has already seen some controversy with users feeling harassed, and when it will actually be adopted is unknown. Meta continues to lose money in its virtual reality division, but it’s clear that progress is still being made in developing technologies that will make the Metaverse more inviting and useful for a variety of user types.
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