Rather than employ eye or facial tracking, the expressions conveyed through Oculus were triggered by gestures — shake your fist and the avatar’s face appears angry; shrug with your palms up and it appears confused, etc. Facebook likened the result to the use of emojis to convey reactions in virtual conversations.
“It was very forced,” Tadi remarked. “You had these very 2D characters who were being driven artificially. If someone bumped their first, there was a smile generated on the avatar. That’s a very artificial way of thinking. If you want to smile, you just smile. There’s no other way to do it.”
MindMaze is currently in licensing talks with all of the major consumer VR headset makers. The plan is to strike a deal for MASK to ship with an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive in time for the holidays. In February of 2016, MindMaze’s valuation topped $1 billion after receiving a $100 million round of funding to expand into the consumer space.
“This is going to bring real human emotion into VR,” said Tadi, enabling everything from more immersive first-person gaming experiences to more engaging social interactions online. “We’re moving away from VR as a technological experience to being a real human experience for the first time.”