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Meta invented legs for his Horizon avatars

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Meta’s Horizon avatars get legs. So far, the company’s avatars have curiously hovered just above the ground, but sometime later next year, Meta will have your legs added to your avatars on VR, mobile, and more as part of the company’s next-generation avatars.

Legs are “probably the most requested feature on our roadmap,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s Connect event, showing off the new avatars, which look significantly better than the avatars available now. (Imagine the enhanced avatar Zuckerberg showed after his current-generation avatar was memed but was moving.) “But seriously, legs are hard, which is why other virtual reality systems don’t have them.”

According to Zuckerberg, the company started with avatars that didn’t include the entire body, because it was challenging for a VR headset to accurately estimate where things like your elbow or legs actually are. If the system inaccurately made them appear in VR, that would break the immersion.

For the poor, Meta has gotten better at figuring out what those body parts are doing as tracking and predictive technologies have improved. Legs can be troublesome because of occlusion, Zuckerberg said. For example, if your legs are under a desk, it’s hard for a standalone VR headset to figure out what they could do because the desk blocks the view of the headset’s cameras. Instead, in order to represent legs, Meta has built an AI model to predict the position of your entire body.

Avatar Legs are coming first to Meta’s Horizon social VR platform, though it’s unclear exactly when. They will come to “more and more experiences over time as we improve our technology stack,” Zuckerberg said. During the Connect event, they seemed to move very naturally, but since it was a pre-recorded video, we don’t know yet what they will look like in practice.

Meta doesn’t just work on legs; it plans to add a slew of new avatar-related features. The company explores how to create expressive and photo-realistic avatars to represent yourself in different situations, for example. You can bring avatars to Reels for them to appear in your videos or to Messenger and WhatsApp for video chats. (They’re also coming to Zoom.) And Meta is launching an avatar store in VR later this year, making it easier to shop for clothes and specific looks.

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