Scientists Create Virtual Twin Within Ten Minutes

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Researchers have developed a system that makes it possible to practice and improve motion sequences by providing individualized feedback in real time.

ICSpace is one of four large-scale projects at CITEC Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology. The system is embodied by a virtual person acting as a coach. In addition, users see virtual copies of themselves in the mirror of the virtual room.

Such avatars usually take days to create, however, these researchers have now developed an accelerated process.

In order to create avatars for the ICSpace system, they scanned people, using a circular array of 40 DSLR cameras, further using these images to compute several million three-dimensional sample points on the person’s body. A generic virtual human model is fitted to this data in such a way that it corresponds to the shape and appearance of the person scanned.

“Our virtual human model was generated from more than one hundred 3D scans and contains statistical knowledge about human body shape and movement. Only through this model are we able to create avatars quickly and automatically.” says Professor Dr. Mario Botsch, a coordinator of the ICSpace project.

The resulting virtual people can be animated in detail, to enable movement of all joints, even individual fingers, and communicate through facial expressions, speech, and gestures.

The study showed that users identify better with such a custom-tailored individualized avatar than with an avatar that does not resemble them, even if it looks similarly realistic.

For the current study, his team has developed algorithms that accelerate the complete processing of the photo data right up to the animatable avatar. “This way, we can now generate the avatar of any person within ten minutes,” says Jascha Achenbach, lead author of the resulting publication. “We create the virtual avatars in a format that is also used by the computer games industry,” says Thomas Waltemate, who, like Achenbach, works in Botsch’s research group. This makes the avatar generation also interesting for commercial use.

This is a groundbreaking advancement in the field of virtual reality. Increasing adoption of technology in the digital entertainment and media segment accelerating demand for virtual reality, as elaborated in Virtual And Augmented Reality Market report published by Coherent Market Insights.

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