Categories
Computing

Apple’s New AR Headset Will Track Hand Gestures Via Face ID

Apple has an augmented reality (AR) headset in the works, and a well-known analyst now predicts that it will use Face ID to track hand movements.

The upcoming headset is said to be equipped with more 3D sensing modules than iPhones and, according to the report, may one day replace iPhones altogether.

Antonio De Rosa

The information comes from a note for investors prepared by Ming-Chi Kuo, a respected analyst, which was then shared by MacRumors. In his report, he elaborates on the kind of performance and features we can expect from the upcoming Apple AR/MR (augmented reality/mixed reality) headset.

According to Kuo, the new headsets will feature four sets of 3D sensors as opposed to the one to two sets currently offered by the latest iPhones. The use of extra sensors opens up the headset to a whole lot of new capabilities, extending the realism of the user experience.

The sensors used in the new Apple headset rely on structured light to detect motion and actions. Kuo predicts that this will make it possible for the headset to track not just the position of the user, but also the hands of the user and other people, objects in front of the user, and lastly, detailed changes in hand movements.

Kuo compared the headset’s ability to track small hand movements to the way Apple’s Face ID is capable of tracking changes in facial expressions. Being able to detect small hand and finger movements allows for a more intuitive user interface that doesn’t take away from the realism of using an AR/MR headset.

Apple VR Headset Concept by Antonio De Rosa.
Apple VR Headset Concept Antonio De Rosa

Both the iPhone and the yet unnamed Apple headset rely on structured light, but the headset needs to be more powerful than the iPhone in order to offer proper hand movement detection. Kuo notes that this means that the structured light power consumption of the AR/MR headset is higher.

“We predict that the detection distance of Apple’s AR/MR headset with structured light is 100% to 200% farther than the detection distance of the iPhone Face ID. To increase the field of view for gesture detection, we predict that the Apple AR/MR headset will be equipped with three sets of ToFs (time of flight) to detect hand movement trajectories with low latency requirements,” said Ming-Chi Kuo in his investor note.

Kuo believes that Apple may one day wish to replace the iPhone with the AR headset, although that won’t happen anytime soon. He predicts that in the next 10 years, headsets may very well replace existing electronics with displays.

With the added hand gesture tracking, the new Apple headset may offer an immersive user experience. As rumors suggest that Apple may be looking to join Meta and other companies in expanding toward the metaverse, it’s possible that this headset might be the first step toward just that.

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Categories
Game

Roblox will offer layered clothing and facial gestures for more realistic avatars

Roblox wants to make its avatars look less blocky and more realistic, and it has announced a couple of visual updates meant to achieve that goal during its annual developers conference. One of those changes is layered clothing, which it’s been working on since at least 2020. It allows any type of character model to be outfitted with layered clothing items. TechCrunch explains that the feature ensures clothing items will fit avatars and will drape around them naturally, whether they’re human- or dinosaur-shaped. At the moment, players can only access the feature in the beta version of Roblox Studio’s avatar editor, and it’s unclear when it’ll be more widely available.

Roblox CEO David Baszucki said during the keynote:

“Self-identity is a crucial pillar of the metaverse, and the ability to precisely customize your clothing to your unique avatar is paramount in personal expression”

Roblox has also announced a feature called Dynamic Heads that can provide facial animations for avatars. The animations could link with facial tracking, so the character’s mouth can move in time with its words. TechCrunch says the feature was made possible by the company’s acquisition of digital avatar startup Loom.ai last year. 

It’ll be a long time before facial animations become an official part of the game, though — Roblox has only given developers access to it right now, so they can play around with it and test it out. “These releases represent important stepping stones in a long line of innovations to improve the expressiveness and combinatorics in the metaverse,” Daniel Sturman, Chief Technology Officer for Roblox, wrote in his recap for the event.

In addition to the experimental avatar features, Roblox has announced that it’s giving creators a new way to earn money, as well. Creators will be able to put up items they designed for sale for a limited time, turning them into collectibles with higher value than the other goods they’re selling in-game.

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