Google has shown off new mixed reality technology that removes the headset from a virtual reality (VR) experience so that spectators can actually see the wearers' facial expressions in real time.
The technology, developed by Google Research and Google Daydream Labs, uses a combination of machine learning, 3D computer vision and advanced rendering techniques to "remove" clunky VR headsets in order to allow onlookers to see a person's identity, focus and face in mixed reality.
"If you're watching someone else use VR, it's hard to tell what's going on and what they're seeing. And if you're in VR with someone else, there aren't easy ways to see their facial expressions without an avatar representation," said Avneesh Sud, software engineer at Google Research.
"Mixed reality is a way to convey what's happening inside and outside a virtual place in a two-dimensional format. With this new technology, we're able to make a more complete picture of the person in VR."
For now, it's unlikely this mixed reality is going to hit the mainstream anytime soon, though. It requires a green screen, video camera and a modified version of the HTV Vive (not Google's own Daydream View headset) complete with super-accurate eye-tracking kit tacked on to create a 3D model of the person's face.
What's more, as you can see from the image above, the technology isn't quite perfect just yet.
But Google sees big things for the technology, though, and expects it to transform experiences such as multiplayer gaming and VR conferencing, which is apparently a thing.
"Headset removal is poised to enhance communication and social interaction in VR itself with diverse applications like VR video conference meetings, multiplayer VR gaming, and exploration with friends and family," Sud said.
"Going from an utterly blank headset to being able to see, with photographic realism, the faces of fellow VR users promises to be a significant transition in the VR world, and we are excited to be a part of it."
Google says that it'll make this tech available in select YouTube Spaces, its studios that are open to popular creators on its video platform.
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