Emteq wants to track your facial and eye movements for emotional interaction in VR

emteq faceteq facial sensing platform vr oculus rift review roundup
In June, a company called Emteq came out of stealth mode and revealed that it’s working on a solution that will enable emotional interaction within virtual reality. Right now we can interact with virtual objects, NPCs, and the surrounding artificial environment by using our head movements and hands. That’s what the company considers as first- and second-generation VR, with the third-generation consisting of eye-tracking technology. After that, the company is hoping interaction through facial expressions will move the VR industry into its fourth generation.

Emteq’s new system is called FaceTeq, a facial sensing platform that tracks facial gestures and biometric responses. This platform detects the user’s electrical muscle activity, eye movement, heart rate and rate variability, head position, and his/her response to stress. The AI-powered FaceTeq engine grabs all of this information 1,000 times per second and translates it all in real-time, determining the user’s emotional state and physical expression.

“Our facial expressions are at the core of our social interactions, enabling us to silently, and instantly communicate our feelings, desires and intentions,” the company states. “Often called an empathy machine, VR represents a new paradigm in Human Computer Interaction; a naturalistic interface using physical motion. But the empathy machine needs emotional input, and FaceTeq provides the solution.”

EmTeq reportedly wants to use this technology to grow the social VR space. The biometric sensors used by the FaceTeq platform would be installed in the faceplate of a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. This would be far superior than using mere cameras, as the sensors would pick up on every frown, every facial twitch, every slight eye movement, and so on, accurately depicting the user in the virtual realm.

“Imagine playing an immersive role-playing game where you need to emotionally engage with a character to progress,” said Graeme Cox, chief executive and co-founder of Emteq. “With our technology, that is possible — it literally enables your computer to know when you are having a bad day or when you are tired.”

The company believes that facial expressions are a big component that’s missing in VR-based interactions. And while there are head-mounted displays (HMDs) with connected depth cameras to capture the lower portion of the user’s face, this method doesn’t track two of the most important facial details: the eyes. However, it’s those muscles surrounding the eyes that help visually define surprise, anger, and sadness. That’s the area currently covered up by HMDs.

Right now the company is aiming FaceTeq at developers, creative agencies, brands, market researchers, innovators, and health care professionals, meaning the technology isn’t just meant for social VR interaction. Researchers could use the technology to understand “the basis of our psychological and emotional responses to the world” whereas brands could use FaceTeq to generate an emotional connection with their audience.

That all said, FaceTeq is an open platform that’s low-cost and light-weight. The company believes this platform will “herald” the fourth-generation of VR, so we’ll see what the early adopters will produce. These early FaceTeq users are expected to consist of researchers, developers, and market researchers. Meanwhile, the company is currently working to partner with headset manufacturers and content creators, so stay tuned.

Web

Firefox Reality wants to bring the ‘whimsical web’ to VR

Mozilla launched a VR-powered web browser today called Firefox Reality. But just what does browsing the web in VR feel like? We went hands-on with this new browser to see how Mozilla imagines the future of virtual reality content.
Mobile

Memoji in iOS 12 lets you create an avatar that looks and moves just like you

Apple's Memoji feature on iOS 12 allows you to send a customize Animoji that looks exactly like you. In comparison to other apps that allow you to make your own custom avatar, Memoji doesn't overcomplicate it.
Product Review

Oculus Touch buoys the Rift, but there's still work to be done

Oculus inspired the new generation of virtual reality headsets with its incredibly successful Kickstarter. Is the original the standard, or have its imitators surpassed it? Let's take a look at how the Rift stacks up.
Emerging Tech

Never remember a face? A new AR facial-recognition app could jog your memory

Prosopagnosia is a neurological condition in which sufferers struggle to recognize people they have met. Could AR technology help? An app created by a Harvard neuroscientist aims to do so.
Computing

Pricing and lack of content are still barriers against the adoption of VR

A recent survey questioned 595 VR and AR professionals about business growth in the consumer and enterprise markets. Only 24 percent report strong sales in the enterprise while 18 percent show strong sales in the consumer market.
Emerging Tech

VR experience shows caregivers what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease

Los Angeles-based VR startup Embodied Labs has developed a virtual experience that puts users in the shoes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia in the U.S.
Photography

Insta360 Pro 2 shoots stabilized 8K VR video that you can watch on 4K headsets

The new Insta360 Pro 2 is the first pro-grade 360 camera to integrate stabilization -- but it also packs in a host of other features, including algorithms that allow the 8K videos to be viewed from 4K headsets and smartphones.
Photography

Capture life in every direction with the best 360 cameras

While 360 cameras are still a new technology, that doesn't mean there's not a few that are worth a look. Whether you want to shoot from the middle or just need a simple, affordable option, here are the best 360 cameras on the market.
Computing

HTC’s new wireless adapter for the Vive arrives in September for $300

Sick of tripping over the HTC Vive’s cord when moving blindly across physical space? HTC’s new wireless adapter is here to help. But it costs $300 and requires you to install an add-in card. That is bad news for laptop owners.
Computing

Oculus ‘Santa Cruz’ VR headset may arrive in the first quarter of 2019

Oculus may introduce a mid-tier VR headset during the Oculus Connect 5 conference in September. This is an assumption based on a response regarding the “Santa Cruz” headset that sources now claim will arrive in 2019's first quarter.
Mobile

Google is making it easier for students to run lab tests in virtual reality

Google and Labster announced a partnership to bring more than 30 virtual science labs to Google Daydream, allowing students and others interested in science to spend time in a lab or out in the field.
Photography

Lensless cameras could turn windows into sensors, even pointed the ‘wrong’ way

A research group at the University of Utah is rethinking cameras for machines and not humans. The result? A lensless camera pointed at the edge of a piece of glass, instead of looking through the glass.
Computing

Apple acquires yet another startup as the release of its AR glasses draws near

Apple AR glasses may be closer to reality than we thought. Here is everything we know so far about the augmented reality system, including the rumored specifications of Apple's Project Mirrorshades.
Product Review

Embrace the dark side with Kylo Ren's lightsaber for 'Star Wars: Jedi Challenges'

Want to be a Jedi? Disney and Lenovo have teamed up to create an augmented reality headset that lets you wield a lightsaber. You can deflect blaster shots, play Holochess, fight or be Kylo Ren in ‘Star Wars: Jedi Challenges.’