Metaverse: because avatars don’t have legs

It is the detail that intrigues. In many Metaverse demonstrations today, the avatars evolving in this virtual world are content with a head, torso, arm, and hand. There is nothing under the belt. We therefore observe characters that evolve a bit as if they were floating in the air, without legs or feet. It’s pretty creepy and inevitably disrupts the desired immersive experience, even if you’re wearing virtual reality glasses.

This stylistic effect – somewhat confused in this imaginary parallel world – however, finds its explanation in a very concrete reason. You have to look at the material currently on offer. And more precisely on the side of virtual reality headsets, of which 12.5 million units were sold in 2021, according to the company Omdia. The best-selling model in the world in 2021 was the Meta Quest 2 (better known as Oculus) owned by Facebook / Meta. Mark Zuckerberg’s company allegedly claimed more than 50% of the market share last year. And Meta Quest 2 consists of a headset and two hand controllers or joysticks. But, on the feet or on the legs, nothing.

A virtual reality headset with its two controllers. Photo: sabracadabra / Shutterstock.

No sensor in the lower body

This absence of sensors placed on the lower limbs prevents the creation of fluid and believable movements. When moving into a virtual universe or metaverse, it is difficult, if not impossible, to know if you are making strides. During a virtual ping-pong match, did you take a big step to touch the ball on the other side of the table or did you just bend over? In order not to disturb the short game too much, the developers opted for the simplest solution: purely and simply remove the body of the avatars below the belt.

“Tracking your legs accurately is super difficult and virtually impossible physically alone with existing headphones.”said Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Reality Labs of Meta (Facebook) during informal exchanges with the public on Instagram on February 10, 2022. “We could add more sensors but it would be more complicated and cost extra to purchase. Or we can imagine ‘false’ legs, that is, doing an imaginary simulation that would suit everyone. ”

In this case, artificial intelligence would come into play, but he specified that it is not immediately in the developments of Meta Quest (Meta Quest 3 should be released in 2023) and Facebook’s Metaverse. You will have to take your problems with patience …

Example of virtual experience in Horizon Worlds, a social virtual reality game published by Meta:

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