Technology and Code ARTICLE

Front. Virtual Real. | doi: 10.3389/frvir.2020.561558

The Rocketbox library and the utility of freely available rigged avatars for procedural animation of virtual humans and embodiment Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

 Mar Gonzalez-Franco1*,  Eyal Ofek1,  Ye Pan2,  Angus Antley1,  Anthony Steed1, 3,  Bernhard Spanlang4,  Antonella Maselli5, Domna Banakou6, 7,  Nuria Pelechano8, Sergio Orts-Escolano9, Veronica Orvalho10, 11,  Laura Trutoiu12,  Markus Wojcik13,  Maria V. Sanchez-Vives4, 14, 15, Jeremy Bailenson16,  Mel Slater6, 7 and Jaron Lanier1
  • 1Microsoft Research (United States), United States
  • 2Disney Research, United States
  • 3University College London, United Kingdom
  • 4Virtual Bodyworks S.L., Spain
  • 5Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, Italian National Research Council, Italy
  • 6EventLab, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • 7Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • 8Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain
  • 9Google (United States), United States
  • 10University of Porto, Portugal
  • 11Institute of Telecommunications (IT), Portugal
  • 12Independent researcher, United States
  • 13Independent researcher, Germany
  • 14Institut de Recerca Biomèdica August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Spain
  • 15Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA), Spain
  • 16Stanford University, United States

As part of the open sourcing of the Microsoft Rocketbox avatar library for research and academic purposes, here we discuss the importance of rigged avatars for the Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR, AR) research community. Avatars, virtual representations of humans, are widely used in VR applications. Furthermore many research areas ranging from crowd simulation to neuroscience, psychology or sociology have used avatars to investigate new theories or to demonstrate how they influence human performance and interactions.

We divide this paper in two main parts: the first one gives an overview of the different methods available to create and animate avatars. We cover the current main alternatives for face and body animation as well introduce upcoming capture methods. The second part presents the scientific evidence of the utility of using rigged avatars for embodiment but also for applications such as crowd simulation and entertainment. All in all this paper attempts to convey why rigged avatars will be key to the future of VR and its wide adoption.

Keywords: Human Computer Interaction (HCI), augmented reality, virtual reality, motion capture, animation, Blendshapes, rigging, Microsoft Rocketbox, Volumetric, Avatars

Received: 12 May 2020; Accepted: 16 Sep 2020.

Copyright: © 2020 Gonzalez-Franco, Ofek, Pan, Antley, Steed, Spanlang, Maselli, Banakou, Pelechano, Orts-Escolano, Orvalho, Trutoiu, Wojcik, Sanchez-Vives, Bailenson, Slater and Lanier. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Mar Gonzalez-Franco, Microsoft Research (United States), Redmond, 98052, Washington, United States, margon@microsoft.com