Video conferencing platform Zoom has introduced avatars that replace a user’s head with a 3D character that mimics facial expressions for virtual offices and classrooms.
Only animals like cats, dogs and foxes are available for now, but Zoom is teasing more avatars in the future.
“Available for Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinar, Avatars replace your appearance with a virtual animal that mirrors your head movements and facial expressions,” the company said in a blogpost.
“Avatars are an easy and entertaining way to engage with attendees and create a bit of fun. They also provide a good middle ground for users who do not want to appear on camera, but still want to express body language and facial expressions,” they added.
When you turn on the Avatars feature during a meeting, Zoom’s technology uses your device’s camera to detect where a face is on the screen and apply the selected avatar effect.
“Images of your face do not leave your device when using this feature, and they are not stored or sent to Zoom,” the company said.
This feature does not use facial recognition, which means that it does not identify who you are. So while the Avatars feature can tell what is or is not a face, it does not recognize or distinguish between individual faces.
The Avatars feature is available on Windows and macOS desktop devices, as well as iOS mobile devices.
To enable Avatars, you will need to make sure your Zoom desktop client or mobile app is running on version 5.10.0 or higher. You will also need the feature to be enabled by an account owner or admin.
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