Virtual reality has come a long way in recent years, from being a technological oddity to being a viable commercial platform for games and more. Now the technology is making a significant stride forward as a VR company has developed technology that will allow people to share their own facial expressions in the virtual world. This facial expression interface will help you share your real smiles with your friends and others, which could dramatically improve the clarity and enjoyment of virtual reality communication.
How the Technology Works
Most VR controls work by tracking your movements. From tools that read your motion in pre-VR systems like the Wii or Kinect to actual VR controllers that you hold in your hands that track the controllers’ locations, the previous generations of VR controllers were pretty much all motion-based.
But the new Mask control system from Mind Maze recognizes that motion based controllers would be too slow for facial expressions, which can change rapidly. Instead, Mind Maze claims that its foam electrodes can actually sense the nerve potential that is going to make your facial expression–before you actually make it!
The system is a small foam insert that the company claims can fit into any VR mask to adapt them into communicating your facial expressions. They claim that the nerve potential electrodes can distinguish many different kinds of expressions, including smiles, without calibration. However, they don’t tell all the different expressions that the Mask can distinguish–hopefully it can tell the difference between many different expressions, which can sometimes have subtle differences.
Why Your Online Smile Matters
Smiling is a crucial part of our everyday communications, and being able to use it in virtual reality will definitely help improve the interpersonal experience of VR. We know that a smile is vital in personal situations, which is why a smile makeover will do more for your image than new clothes. And smiles already make a difference in many online applications, such as online dating.
Without a smile, your online avatar is limited to a very small number of communication options, especially in terms of nonverbal communication. It makes being online with other people a lot less satisfying. But being able to share smiles online will make the VR experience much closer to an in-person one.
Are You Looking for a Beautiful Smile IRL?
As rapidly as VR technology is advancing, it’s still a long time before you can use it for the kinds of communications that depend on your smile. So having a beautiful smile IRL (in real life) still matters. Fortunately, we already have the cosmetic dentistry technology to give you a smile makeover.