Augmented Reality – eye contact with character?

Eyes are the key to any conversation. A person can communicate with their eyes without saying a word. Eyes show emotions, attention, and depth. Eye contact is a vital factor in acting and any communicative media. Eye contact showcases attentiveness and interest in the conversation.

Why is the eye contact in AR so important?

Eye contact opens and closes the communication
Increased eye contact is associated with credibility and dominance
Lack of contact and blinking are interpreted as submissive
Empty stares communicate hostility

What does it mean?

Eye contact with a 3D character can provide an immersive experience to the user in a well-produced AR environment. It creates believable communication between the user and the computer-generated 3D character. As AR is typically viewed through mobile devices, the AR character needs to look at the device to create eye contact. Through the use of camera tracking the AR character will be aware of the device’s movement and can react to the user’s motion in a believable manner. It should move the head and the eyes to gaze at the user’s camera when the user is looking at the screen and be in idle mode when the user is not looking at the character. We have successfully carried out this experiment with an AR character that looks at the user’s camera.

In an FPS game, the NPCs look at the player and the expression modeling establishes the emotion behind the game environment showcasing torment, despair, happiness, anger, etc. We need to create a similar simulation where the character could establish a connection with the user and set an environment for the AR experience. In this project, we determined the camera positioning for the user in the world space. We used this positioning to create vectors that would help to move the character’s head toward the camera. The vector values are imputed into the character’s neck bone and the neck bone is thus used to control the character’s head movement, setting its gaze towards the user. 

There may still be disbelief and issues regarding immersion if these elements are not perfectly executed. To create realism or illusion of the physical reality in the virtual world for the user, we need to not just engage the visual ability, but also all senses of the user in as near accurate a way as they would perceive the real world. This includes adding eye blinking and eye expression animation, sound effects and cues, realistic character design, etc. All these factors added together will thus create a more immersive and engaging augmented reality experience.

Sig hej til Pedro

Founder, Techspotter

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