Mark Zuckerberg held the first public conference in the Horizon Worlds metaverse of Meta on October 11, 2022, during Meta’s Connect event. At this conference, there were many main announcements, including the new $1,499 Quest Pro headset, Meta’s partnership with Microsoft to bring Office apps into the metaverse, and many more. However, the most-talked announcement is about legs coming to virtual avatars.
Till now, Horizon Worlds users had legless avatars that float in the metaverse without any legs. During the Connect conference, Mark Zuckerberg and his Meta exec Aigerim Shorman’s avatars showed a demo of kicking and jumping off their avatars with legs. This was meant to narrate that Horizon Worlds is soon providing users with legs to have a more lifelike experience in the digital space. However, things don’t look as simple as they seem. So, let’s discuss in detail the metaverse legs announcement and see how things are shaping up currently.
Why Legs are so Important for Meta?
It is almost a year since Mark Zuckerberg changed the company name to Meta and revealed his grand metaverse ambition. Zuckerberg believes that VR/AR is the future of the internet and is spending billions to take on a lead in it. Due to this ambition, Meta is under severe criticism that the plans are quite unrealistic or seriously lack lifelike experience currently.
In fact, Zuckerberg was mocked heavily when he shared his avatar on Facebook for the announcement of the launch of Horizon Worlds in Spain and France.
Right after criticism, Zuckerberg ensured that more enhanced graphic updates are coming to its metaverse avatars. So, the recent announcement of legs coming to the metaverse is one important step to improve the graphics of the avatars and make users feel a more lifelike experience.
“I know you’ve been waiting for this. Everyone has been waiting for this,” said Zuckerberg’s avatar in the Meta’s Connect Event. “But seriously, legs are hard, which is why other virtual reality systems don’t have them either.”
The emphasis Meta is putting on legs shows that visual problems are the biggest concern currently for the company because users don’t want to see floating avatars in outdated graphics. Therefore, the company is trying its best to show that it touches reality, as it will excite the people about the metaverse, which is much needed to stop the declining tech giant’s stock and gain investors’ trust in the future of the company.
How is Meta Going to Detect Legs?
Meta was not able to introduce legs earlier because VR/AR headsets can only detect the movements of upper body parts, such as hands, head, face, etc. When the view of your legs is blocked from the headset due to your arms or if your legs are inside the desk, then the headset is not able to detect their position. So, there is no simple way to detect the movement of legs from the existing headsets. In fact, the new $1,499 Quest Pro headset is also not coming with legs.
Microsoft has also faced complications with introducing legs in its metaverse. Moreover, some other VR experiences that are showing virtual legs are not capable to track the movements of legs in real time.
Despite all challenges with detecting legs, Meta has announced to bring legs first to its metaverse, Horizon Worlds, and then to its other products. As per Zuckerberg, they will set up different predictive AI models that will guess the orientation and movement of legs based on the movement of upper-body parts. In short, they are trying to build a smart AI model that can accurately predict the complete body position.
How Real are Zuckerberg’s Avatar Legs in the Demonstration
The demonstration of Zuckerberg and his Meta exec Aigerim Shorman’s avatars during the Meta’s Connect event seemed to be the actual legs of their avatars that are accurately reflecting their legs’ movements. However, that was just the animation made for the demonstration.
Meta told UploadVR’s Ian Hamilton that they used animation for the legs. “To enable this preview of what’s to come, the segment featured animations created from motion capture,” the Meta told the publication.
This clearly narrates legs are not coming to Horizon Worlds right away. If it was so, then why would Meta do the demo with animations? Most likely, we will see the legs in Horizon Worlds somewhere in 2023, but they are surely going to come into the metaverse environment very soon.
Other Avatar Updates
Meta is not just focusing on adding legs to avatars, but a lot of other visual refinements are underway. For example, the new Quest Pro headset now comes with inward-facing head sensors that can accurately track facial expressions and eye movements. Similarly, Meta is also updating the appearance of avatars with more realistic looks and is also diversifying skin tones, clothing styles, facial features, etc. Meta is also going to launch a Meta Avatar Store next year that will allow users to make their avatars look fancier and buy other digital goods.
Wrapping Up – Are Legs going to make any difference in the Public’s Perception of Metaverse?
Zuckerberg believes that VR is the future, and it’s true somehow considering the exponential growth in the development and use of VR technology. That’s why Meta is risking a lot with $10 billion annual spending on the metaverse. However, what Meta and other tech giants are struggling with is convincing the general public to show excitement and use the metaverse.
Currently, VR headsets are costly, while the metaverse is used more for gaming and virtual experiences, so even legs alone cannot contribute much to the public perception of the metaverse. Once the graphics become better, more business/corporate-related features of the metaverse come into action, and headsets become cheaper, more people will get attracted to the metaverse. To sum up, Meta will definitely get some appreciation once legs get integrated with Horizon Worlds, but there is a long journey to bring the metaverse to the level that people actually start loving it.