Switzerland – Mask is the first device capable of interpreting real-life emotions and replicating them in virtual reality (VR).
Mask’s technology can map expressions onto an avatar in real time. Created by neurotechnology company MindMaze, the lightweight foam headset insert is fitted with eight small sensors capable of recognising users’ facial expressions.
Using advanced machine learning and biosignal processing, the sensors pick up facial movements without the need for calibration. The device, which combines hardware and software, can decode facial expressions tens of milliseconds before they appear on the user’s face. It then translates them into one of 10 avatar expressions, ranging from smiling and frowning to winking.
Rather than creating its own headset, MindMaze has created a product that can be inserted into any existing VR headset, making it a cheap, accessible option for consumers who already own a device and thereby helping to develop the role of VR in gaming. Creating more emotionally engaging experiences capable of capturing attention for longer will also help to propel VR further towards the mainstream market.
‘Humanising virtual reality is a natural progression,’ says Tej Tadi, CEO and founder of MindMaze. ‘What makes us human in social interactions is emotion, but that has been missing in virtual reality so far. Mask brings emotion, the ultimate driver of engagement, with the goal of evolving VR beyond novelty.’