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Apple buys a VR company that put real faces on virtual avatars

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Before you began playing one of Spaces’ experiences, your face would be scanned by a wall-mounted camera. This data was then overlaid onto your in-game avatar, so your fellow players were playing with you inside the virtual world. It may not have been particularly accurate, but it added another level of fidelity on top of the sometimes-artificial VR experience.

When COVID-19 struck, Spaces had to shut down its real-world business and pivot to stay alive, admittedly unsuccessfully. But it took that face-scanning technology and built a platform onto which you could scan your own face and place it onto a virtual avatar. You could then connect your VR setup to Zoom (or another video conferencing product) and present as a cartoon version of yourself.

Given Apple’s interest in facial scanning and cartoonish avatars — memoji — it seems like there’s plenty of reason for Apple to buy Spaces. Perhaps it’ll use the Spaces team to bolster its existing efforts in the VR/AR space, or harness the technology to improve FaceTime with virtual characters.



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