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Video calls can feel awkward since no looks at the camera when talking. Some devices and software, like Microsoft’s Surface Pro X and Apple’s Facetime, can adjust your eyes to seem like they’re staring into the camera. But NVIDIA wants to go a step further and adjust your entire face, or maybe replace it with a digital avatar.
When you’re in a video call, you probably look at the screen to see the people in your meeting. They probably do the same, and so video calls tend to lack any sort of eye contact. Some companies have been experimenting with software to fix that problem, through subtle adjustments in eye positioning.
As you look at the screen, the software changes your eyes to “look at the camera.” That gives the appearance that you’re looking at the people in your meeting. But with large monitors and webcams, that doesn’t work so well because you may have your face angled all wrong. You could be looking to the left, or downwards.
That’s where NVIDIA’s MAXINE artificial intelligence (A.I.) comes in. It can change the angle of your head, so you appear to be facing the camera. You’ll be better aligned, and the outcome should be something more natural.
In addition, Maxine can upscale video from a low-resolution 360p to 720p, so everyone gets a clearer view of you. And if you’d rather have anyone see you at all, you can replace yourself with a digital avatar.
NVIDIA demonstrated the concept by replacing a human with a digital alien. Maxine also promises better compression to save on bandwidth, something helpful for anyone with spotty internet. The A.I. can also help with virtual backgrounds, noise reduction, and more.
Unfortunately, Maxine isn’t just a piece of software you can download. NVIDIA is opening the A.I. up to developers to incorporate into software. It may be a while before we see anyone using it. That could be for the best; as impressive as the demonstrations are, it still reached into the uncanny valley to some extent.