Earlier today, at its Connect keynote, Oculus announced a new avatar system for its Rift — and eventually Gear VR — headsets. Yes, the avatar is not exactly a new piece of technology, even in VR. You can already build an avatar in AltspaceVR or vTime, and Facebook has its own animated avatar setup that Mark Zuckerberg showed off on stage. But these avatars are classy, and I made one.
Instead of being either cartoonish or photorealistic, Oculus decided to go for severe monochrome busts with floating hands. Put on the Rift, and you can see something like a virtual mirror, where you can pick a face shape, a hairstyle, a pair of glasses, and an outfit (seen from the shoulders up). You can also pick the material you’re made of: glass, glowing metal, knitted fabric, or twinkling stars, among other things. Here’s me:
You don’t have control over your facial expressions right now, so my avatar is in a perpetual state of serene skepticism, like the archly superior overseer of a VR experiment in one of those '90s reality-bending sci-fi movies, like The 13th Floor or Existenz. But once again, Oculus is doing its level best to make something fundamentally silly feel cool. And for now, I’m willing to go with it.