Meta pays big bucks for lipstick tests with VR headsets – report
Meta launched very specific audience tests, according to a report. The surveys could serve to develop new target groups.
Facebook’s Meta apparently wants to ensure that as its upcoming VR headsets are adopted by as many people as possible. Tech publication The Information, citing anonymous sources, reports that the company has been looking for test subjects in the New York area since last year. Examples include lipstick tests with VR headsets.
According to the report, the target groups include young people with South Asian roots. The contracted testing institute is also looking for African-American women.
Photorealistic avatars also sometimes have beautiful lips
Meta has been researching photo-realistic animated avatars that look amazingly similar to real faces for years. Sensors in the VR headset record the eye and mouth area for this purpose. An AI model generates eye movements, facial expressions and even teeth from this data. Special test scenarios could aim to ensure that the virtual twins resemble their originals as closely as possible, even when wearing makeup.
This theory is in line with the experience of author Mathew Olson. Many virtual reality and augmented reality designers already told him how important such tests are in the field of face recognition.
This is especially true for lips and eyes, so that avatars of people with different faces and skin colors have the most accurate facial expression nuances possible. Another tricky task is the scanning of a complete body together with its true-to-the-original animation.
Colorful user group tests for Meta Cambria?
Another target group for the tests included contact lens wearers. Contacts could influence both eye tracking and visual comfort when using the headset.
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The remuneration for the tests is comparatively lavish. Meta offered test subjects compensation in the range of several hundred US dollars, according to Olson. Meta itself has not yet commented on the report.
Meta’s photorealistic codec avatars recently cleared an important hurdle. Researchers successfully rendered the VR avatars relatively smoothly on a Meta Quest 2 using a new rendering technique. Using a specially developed AI chip, Meta further accelerated the rendering.
Meta’s new Cambria VR headset is slated for a fall release, at a “significantly higher” price than $800. Meta could market the headset in part as a work device, and will continue to focus on social aspects such as telepresence with photorealistic avatars.
New hardware features like high-quality passthrough, eye tracking and face tracking will help. A slimmer form factor should provide more wearing comfort.