Virtual Reality

Smile or scream in virtual reality with an expression-translating mask

Smile or scream in virtual rea...
MindMaze's Mask insert is designed to stream real-time facial expressions to your VR avatar
MindMaze's Mask insert is designed to stream real-time facial expressions to your VR avatar
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Emoting could add personalization and connection to games
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Emoting could add personalization and connection to games
Foam electrodes
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Foam electrodes
MindMaze's Mask insert is designed to stream real-time facial expressions to your VR avatar
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MindMaze's Mask insert is designed to stream real-time facial expressions to your VR avatar

The best VR experiences let users use their real-life bodies to maneuver in the virtual world. MindMaze wants to extend that immersion to include the user's facial expressions: Its latest product, Mask, is a headset insert that tracks the wearer's expressions and transmits them to their VR avatar.

That means the wearer can use their actual faces to emote in VR, which adds layers of personalization, emotion and humanization to the experience. This ability has a great deal of potential for social media and gaming applications.

It's not the first time that VR companies have eyed the importance of personal expression in VR – in fact, Mark Zuckerberg demoed smiling and frowning avatars onstage at the Oculus Connect 3 conference last October. But if MindMaze's claims are to be believed, it is close to realizing this goal.

Emoting could add personalization and connection to games
Emoting could add personalization and connection to games

The Mask is a foam insert that connects to a pre-existing VR headset. It tracks the user's face using foam electrodes that detect facial electrical impulses, which are then analyzed with software algorithms that create a neural signature of the individual's expressions, without the need for calibration.

MindMaze claims that its advanced machine learning and biosignal processing can decode and translate real-life expressions tens of milliseconds before they actually appear on the user's face. This early detection supposedly allows real-time replication of the wearer's expression on the avatar.

Foam electrodes
Foam electrodes

The Mask product is available now, but only to enterprise partners. MindMaze is evidently hoping that its technology gets picked up by VR's major players, such as Oculus (creator of the Rift) and HTC/Valve (the partners behind the HTC Vive).

It's also compatible with affordable mobile VR set-ups like the Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR, so with any luck, we could see some much-needed improvements to mobile VR.

Product page: MindMaze

1 comment
Bob Flint
Why the stupid mask, screen mounted cameras capture your facial expressions, or a step away further and get the whole body complete with finger gestures.....