Realistic Avatars are blurring the lines between the physical and the virtual worlds, but why?

Avatars are not new. Gamers have used them for decades in video games. The pixelated bodies we had in the 80s have given way to realistic avatars like the ones we create in Union Avatars, and yet, there is much more to come. 

But what truly has changed is the way we use these virtual characters.

Why are Avatars so important?

The thing is, if the users see themselves physically represented in the virtual world, they will become more conscious about the experience and they will participate in a deeper immersive way and it will create engagement (within the platform). 

The possibilities are endless, we can create our avatar and embed it with both the physical appearance we identify with and the values, strengths and weaknesses we have. But we don’t always want it to look exactly like ourselves. We might want to shave our beards, put on a nice dress, change our hair or get some tattoos, and of course, we can do all of that and more in the metaverse!

Types of Avatars

There is no set guide about what an avatar has to look like. Nowadays, you can find different kinds of avatars depending on their quality or body features.

Depending on the quality; Cartoon-like or photorealistic:

  • Low quality and 2D avatars: Cartoon-like avatars. None of these avatars had any gestures or facial expressions.
  • 3D Cartoonised Avatars: these kinds of avatars present more quality than the formers but still, you only get a cartoon-like avatar representation of yourself.
  • Photorealistic Avatars: these avatars represent new cutting edge technology compared with the last two. They offer a realistic representation of yourself in the virtual world and facial expressions that make your avatar more human.

Depending on the body features:

  • Half body Avatars: These avatars are used in rudimentary VR apps. They don’t have complex body movements. Most of the time, the user sees the world from the avatar’s point of view. The other participants may see the upper part of the avatar and its arms but not its legs. This way they get to reduce the file size and make the avatar functional.
  • Full body Avatars: the full-body avatar has sensors that recreate and replicate the whole body’s movements. The result? You have much more freedom to move inside the virtual world and you can use your limbs to reach digital assets. 
Photorealistic & full-body avatars from Union

When we get into the virtual world, VR platforms, for instance, we want to have the most immersive experience possible. We want to be our avatar. The more real and alike it looks to us the more realistic the virtual world will be.

The experience and tests show that the engagement obtained by avatars with gestures and facial expressions was significantly higher than the static and cartoon-like ones. Providing simple gestures and facial expressions to the avatars will enhance the sense of belonging in a collaborative virtual environment. 

Union Avatars technology provides high-quality low-poly full-body avatars with low impact on operation costs and at low file size.

For all of the above, we think that full-body avatars and photorealistic avatars will be the ones we all will use in the future, and Meta (Facebook’s Metaverse) will likely choose this path as well.

This article supports the idea that realistic avatars users feel more present in virtual platforms than cartoon-like avatar users. The engagement with the metaverse is much deeper for the user when they use a human-like avatar.

Benefits for your Company

One of the many things we’ve learned in this pandemic is that working from home is a suitable possibility. Many offices had to send their workers home and the world didn’t end! The way we interact with our co-workers have changed and traditional office meetings made way to virtual meetings.

Now imagine replacing Skype, Zoom or any other video conferencing platform to meet your workmates in the metaverse, where everybody has their photorealistic 3D avatar.

Meta and Microsoft are working on the idea of developing animated mouth movement in the avatars whenever a microphone picks up the user speaking. They want to embed them with a range of facial expressions to simulate expressivity and human emotions. You can already do that with free software as we explain in our post Vtubers: are they taking over Youtube?.

It won’t truly matter where you are based, because wherever you are you can transport the entire working office and environment to the Metaverse. Considering that many companies had to transfer to a partial or fully remote work model, this will be a game-changing move.

Realistic Avatars as a Businesses

Like everything in life, you can make a profit out of your avatars as well.

There is actually a growing market of NFT Avatars called NFP (Non-Fungible People) where you can buy and sell avatars.  

This new emerging economy is called Direct to Avatar or D2A. In 2017, users spent around 30 billion USD on gaming loot boxes and skins; and these numbers are said to grow up to 50 billion USD by the end of this year. 

Conclusion

There is still a long way to go when it comes to developing the metaverse. Every day new technologies develop strongly related to the virtual world such as blockchain, Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality. We are still in the trial and error path to design connected worlds where we can share experiences and knowledge. 

But this is the right path and we’ll keep on fighting for it!

In Union Avatars, we want to help you develop your virtual identity. Wait no more to get your realistic 3D avatar and start exploring the metaverse and the virtual worlds!

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