Aura brings Quest Pro's Face-tracking demo to App Lab
Meta's impressive alien avatar demo is finally available for you to experience on your Quest Pro headset.
At last year's Meta Connect event, Meta demonstrated the eye and face-tracking abilities of the Quest Pro to control a cute alien avatar, Aura. This greatly improved avatar technology remained in the research lab for four months before being released on the Quest App Lab.
Customizing Aura's expressiveness
Aura is a very expressive avatar from the start, and you can easily exaggerate the emotions conveyed by dragging the multiplier slider to the right. Increasing the multiplier accentuates any small movements of your actual face in your alien counterpart that you see in your VR headset.
You can fine-tune Aura's resting face and how each part of the face responds to your real movements by selecting the sliders icon at the top right. This opens a panel with options to adjust eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, mouth, and more.
With a little tweaking, your version of Aura can be given a permanent pout or made to look slightly annoyed. It's easy to spend some time just playing around with this high-quality and incredibly responsive avatar.
Meta really needs to update its avatars with more advanced technology closer to what's shown in this demonstration.
How to install Aura
Games that launch in Meta's App Lab are much harder to find than regular Quest apps, since you either need a link or must search by the exact name of the app. In this case, it's easy since the name is simply Aura.
All App Lab games come with the disclaimer that they are experimental or in development. Despite the disclaimers and poor discoverability, some App Lab games are quite popular and successful. Although Aura seems reliable and finished, it's only a technology demonstration, not an entire game or full-featured app.
The Quest Pro's untapped potential
Unlike the Meta Quest Pro, Sony's PSVR 2 employs eye-tracking to select menus and offers several games that use eye-tracking to enhance quality with foveated rendering and even to direct gameplay. Meta has barely tapped the potential of the expensive eye and face-tracking technology built into the Quest Pro.
Very few games make use of the Quest Pro's foveated rendering capability. Red Matter 2 shows how powerful this technique can be, yet developers have largely ignored it. The reason might be that the Quest 2, which lacks eye-tracking, accounts for the majority of Quest users.
Quest 2 and Pro owners only recently gained access to a Home environment mirror to see their avatars outside the avatar editing screen. That means the people who benefited the most from these eye and face-tracking features were not Quest Pro owners, but others who saw their expressions, for example in Horizon Worlds.
Since eye-tracking isn't available in the Quest 2 and seems unlikely in the Quest 3, one can only hope that the PSVR 2 games inspire developers to update Quest apps with eye-tracking, despite the comparatively very small audience of Quest Pro owners. It would be great to have more than a handful of experiences that use this technology on a platform that’s four months old.
Meanwhile, you can enjoy the Aura demo to see another example of what’s possible.