What is an Avatar Applied to Augmented Reality?
An augmented reality (AR) avatar is a digital representation of a user or character that can be superimposed onto the real world through web AR technology. It’s a virtual entity that interacts with the physical environment and the user’s surroundings in real-time. Avatars are created using computer-generated images and are designed to integrate into various environments, such as video game platforms, VR ecosystems, or AR environments that incorporate them into real user scenarios, enhancing the sense of immersion and interaction.
The current landscape is in constant evolution due to technology, redefining how we interact with the world around us. Web AR technology has emerged as one of the most transformative and useful technologies, allowing us to connect the physical and digital environments more quickly and accessibly.
In this context, there’s a fascinating intersection with the use of avatars through AR, opening up new possibilities in various application fields. Below, we explore how AR avatars can change the digital user experience:
- Ensuring Accessibility to New Digital Formats and Content for the Common User
Avatars serve as a bridge connecting users to virtual environments. When we create these digital representations, we enable users to interact more naturally with digitized objects and characters, fostering a sense of close and organic immersion. Avatars can be customized to resemble users themselves, creating a more personal and friendly experience that better connects with the end user.
- Enhancing Communication and User Interaction
In AR web experiences, avatars play a crucial role in enriching communication with users. Avatars offer multiple possibilities for expressing emotions and non-verbal signals or movements. This level of expressiveness encourages a more intimate and “human” sensation, leading to more valuable and memorable interactions.
- Personalization and Identity
Avatars are born to provide digital identity to users and it’s through this that they integrate with AR. We can define personality and gestures, appearance, clothing, and accessories, reflecting the most particular preferences. This customization capacity reinforces the user’s identity within the digital environment.
As augmented reality continues to gain momentum, the role of avatars becomes increasingly significant in shaping our digital interactions. These virtual representations have the power to revolutionize how we communicate, learn, shop, and play. AR avatars not only add an element of personalization and creativity but also reinforce our sense of presence in the virtual environment. As technology advances, we can expect avatars to play an even more vital role in defining the future of augmented reality and transforming how we experience the digital world.
What is an Avatar Applied to Augmented Reality with integrated AI?
Avatars are virtual representations that can be integrated with AI algorithms to understand and respond to user interactions, simulating natural human conversation and behavior. From this perspective, what makes these avatars even more intriguing is their ability to tailor their personality and responses based on the interaction and context. They utilize machine learning and data analysis to comprehend communication patterns and user preferences, enabling them to adjust their tone, style, and responses to align with the personality that proves most effective and appealing to each specific user. These avatars can find utility across various applications, from virtual assistants on websites and customer service platforms to in-game characters or even conversational companions on messaging apps. The personalization and adaptability of their personality not only enhance interaction’s realism and enjoyability but can also amplify communication effectiveness and foster a deeper connection between the user and the technology.
At Onirix, we’re advancing solutions that combine AI with web AR, and Avatars are a prime example. To address the needs of the future, we must explore and deliver value through experiences. That’s why we currently have a beta solution that integrates both technologies. There are currently two integrations we’ve successfully connected, each offering distinct solutions to end-users.
Avatar with AI integration using ChatGPT: This integration seamlessly utilizes OpenAI’s tool to imbue Avatars with intelligence, drawing from the vast knowledge base of the tool. The avatar boasts natural animations that simulate conversation in responses, and its interaction with the model recognizes voice or written text. We can confidently say that we possess the ability to incorporate extensive layers of knowledge concerning digital assets such as Avatars or even mascots.
Avatar with AI integration based on acquired knowledge: This operates in the same format and follows the same interaction model, but in this case, we integrate intelligence tailored to address specific topics. Imagine creating fully specialized digital assistants for various fields that can guide users by providing contextually valuable information. Picture a digital wine specialist armed with an origin-based database and ratios, flight attendants, beauty advisors, and more. At Onirix, we’ve taken initial steps in creating an event-specialized assistant. It boasts its own personality and holds information about upcoming events we plan to attend, making it a useful asset for any attendee.
How to Create Your Own Avatar and Types of Avatars
Avatar models have applications in various areas such as entertainment, education, advertising, medicine, and more. In entertainment, for instance, they can be used to create immersive AR experiences, video games, or live presentations. Overall, they add an entirely new dimension to how we interact and experience visual and audiovisual content.
Creating your own avatar can be a fun and creative process. There are four ways to create different avatar formats useful for AR. Each has its own characteristics and limitations depending on project needs, scalability, and application; it’s important to consider one or the other.
Using Avatar Creation Tools:
Various tools are available that allow us to create avatars. Union Avatars is an example we work a lot with at Onirix. It’s one of the fastest and easiest tools for creating a realistic avatar, all from a selfie. You just need to upload your photo and you’ll receive your 3D avatar in real-time, ready to use in video games, virtual reality, and of course, web AR. It’s an economically efficient production.
Some key features of online platforms for avatar creation include:
Visual Customization: These platforms offer a wide variety of options to customize avatar appearances. Users can choose facial features, hairstyles, eye and skin colors, and more.
Clothing and Accessories: Users can dress their avatars in a variety of clothes and accessories, allowing them to reflect their personal style. This could include casual wear, formal outfits, accessories like glasses, hats, and jewelry, among others.
Style Options: Some platforms let users choose between different styles like realistic, cartoonish, futuristic, and more. This provides flexibility to create avatars that suit different contexts and preferences.
Quick Creation: Many of these platforms offer quick creation options, where users can generate an avatar with just a selfie. They use algorithms to analyze the image and create a digital representation of the user.
Intuitive Interface: The platforms typically have user-friendly interfaces that make navigation and customization easy. Users can click, drag, and drop elements to modify their avatar’s appearance.
Sharing and Exporting: After creating an avatar, users often have the option to share it on social media, use it as a profile picture, or export it in different formats for use in applications and platforms.
We’ll obtain an avatar in .glb format, ready for processing and uploading to Onirix. This type of format will require post-production treatment to enable animations and LincSync.
3D Modeling and 3D Animation:
Producing avatars using 3D modeling and animation involves creating three-dimensional digital representations of people or objects, along with adding realistic movements and behaviors. This technique is used in various industries such as video games, movies, virtual reality, augmented reality, or advertising. Below are some key aspects of producing avatars using tools like Blender, Maya, 3ds Max, ZBrush, or Artec Studio, among others.
3D Modeling Process:
Creating the Base: The process begins by designing the three-dimensional structure of the avatar using one of the mentioned 3D modeling software. Digital artists can create the shape, facial features, anatomy, and any avatar detail.
Texturing: Textures, colors, and visual details are added to the 3D model to achieve a realistic or stylized appearance. This includes adding skin tones, hair, clothing, and other visual details.
Rigging: “Rigging” involves adding a bone structure to the 3D model. These bones act as control points to animate and move the avatar realistically during the animation process.
Various animation tools can be used to animate our 3D avatar, including Houdini, MotionBuilder, or Cinema 4D. The animation process involves the following steps:
Keyframes: Animators set keyframes that define specific avatar positions and movements at specific moments. These keyframes help create smooth transitions between different states.
Interpolation: Animation software interpolates movements between keyframes to create fluid animation. This means the software automatically calculates intermediate movements to smooth transitions.
Facial Expressions LyncSync: Different facial expressions and emotions can be defined by adjusting the facial features of the 3D model at different points in the animation sequence.
Inverse Kinematics (IK): Inverse kinematics is used to create realistic human movement animations. It allows limbs to move naturally while maintaining physical constraints.
Motion Capture: In some cases, animation is done through motion capture, where real actors perform movements and expressions that are then transferred to avatars.
Producing avatars with 3D modeling and animation allows for the creation of realistic or stylized virtual characters that can move, interact, and communicate effectively, providing new dimensions of immersion and experience in various fields.
Volumetric video is an advanced technology that allows capturing and reproducing the real world in 3D. Unlike traditional 2D videos that capture only a flat perspective, volumetric video records objects, people, or scenes from multiple angles, enabling a much more immersive visual and spatial experience.
Volumetric video employs a series of cameras or sensors to capture depth data and textures of a subject or scene from different viewpoints. This information is then processed and combined to create a complete and realistic three-dimensional representation. When played back, viewers can virtually move around the subject or scene, change perspective, and get a closer-to-reality sensation.
It’s a production with quite high costs, making it an exclusive option for large events featuring prominent figures such as athletes, musicians, actors, or political figures.
Chroma Key Video:
Producing avatar videos using green screens and chroma keying is a process where a person or object is captured against a solid green background, and then that green background is removed in post-production to replace it with another background or simply have the trimmed video to apply in augmented reality. This technique is used in the film industry, television, video production, and also in digital content creation, including avatars and visual effects.
Some key points about chroma-based avatar video production include:
Choosing the Green Background: A solid green background is used to film the subject (in this case, the avatar). Green is chosen because it’s a color that’s typically not found in human skin or most objects.
Uniform Lighting: It’s essential to have uniform and shadow-free lighting on the green background to ensure effective removal in post-production. Properly lighting the subject is also important for them to realistically integrate into the new background.
Capturing the Subject: The subject is placed in front of the green background and filmed or recorded. Standard video cameras or high-resolution cameras can be used.
Post-Production and Chroma Keying: After recording, the chroma keying process involves using video editing software to remove the green background and replace it with another background or simply create a trimmed avatar video for AR application. The software detects the green color and “cuts it out,” allowing the subject to appear in the foreground.
Production Quality: The quality of production, including lighting, recording, and post-production, is essential to achieve a realistic and compelling outcome. Any irregularities in lighting or green screen removal can result in an unnatural appearance.
Using the Avatar in AR: With the trimmed format, we can incorporate the asset into the library in .mp4 format to insert it into any AR target.
Volumetric Video Avatar
Video croma Avatar
Uses and applications of AR Avatars
AR avatars can be applied to different industries, offering various uses depending on the context and needs. Below, we’ll list a series of uses applied to different industries that we’ve identified.
Here are some examples of how AR avatars can be used in different fields:
Entertainment and AR Video Games: AR avatars can be used in mobile games and entertainment experiences, allowing players to interact with virtual characters in their real environment.
Education and Training: AR avatars can act as virtual instructors in educational apps, providing visual explanations and interactive guidance for learning.
E-commerce and Retail: AR avatars allow users to virtually try on products like clothing, accessories, and furniture in their own environment before making online purchases. Additionally, they can offer interaction and amplified information about products or services.
Advertising and Marketing: Marketing campaigns can incorporate AR avatars to interact with consumers and create interactive and engaging ads. Multiple access points can lead to representing an AR avatar, such as print advertising formats, packaging, or any offline medium.
Tourism and Culture: There are numerous tourism applications. AR avatars can guide visitors through museums, historical sites, or attractions, providing additional information and entertainment. This format is highly applicable in the sense of tele-assistance for tourism as a recommendation tool.
Healthcare and Medicine: AR avatars can be used in healthcare apps to provide visual instructions to patients on using medical devices and performing therapeutic exercises.
Automotive Industry: In the automotive industry, AR avatars can be used in driver assistance applications to provide real-time information and safety alerts.
Architecture and Construction: AR avatars can assist in visualizing architectural designs and planning construction projects.
Industry: In the industry, AR avatars can be used to provide training and guidance in using equipment and machinery.
Human Resources and Corporate Training: AR avatars can be employed in corporate training apps to guide employees through procedures and protocols.
Fashion and Beauty: Fashion and beauty apps can allow users to virtually try on clothes, makeup, and accessories before making a purchase.