Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently became the first-ever interview subject in the metaverse, a virtual world created by his tech company Meta. In a video that has stunned onlookers, Zuckerberg and computer scientist Lex Fridman appear as 3D hyper-realistic avatars, giving the impression that they are talking face to face despite being more than a thousand miles apart. Meta's Codec Avatar research is responsible for creating these lifelike avatars, although the company is still working on translating arms and the lower body into the metaverse.
Initially, when Zuckerberg appeared in the metaverse in two-dimensional form, the project received widespread online mockery. However, the recent video showcasing the conversation between Zuckerberg and Fridman has sparked intrigue. The photorealistic avatars created by Meta's Codec Avatar research capture the flaws and subtleties of the human face, making the experience more immersive. Both individuals were scanned from head to torso to create the avatars in Meta's Pittsburgh Reality Lab, allowing their bodies and facial expressions to be accurately represented in the virtual world.
Meta's goal is to create a sense of presence and togetherness, regardless of physical distance. The Meta Quest headsets can recognize users' facial expressions and transmit them into the metaverse, providing a magical and realistic experience. However, Meta is still working on incorporating arms and the lower body into the metaverse, with Zuckerberg acknowledging that this is one of the last pieces the company needs to perfect. The scanning process, which currently takes several hours, is also being optimized to be quicker and more accessible via mobile phones.
While some observers believe that the lifelike avatars have successfully crossed the uncanny valley, which refers to the unsettling feeling people have when encountering human-like but not quite human entities, others argue that photorealistic avatars can still present problems in a metaverse context. These avatars have sparked both fascination and concern among those observing the evolution of the metaverse.