Intel ventures into 3D mobile chat app that tracks faces, moods

Intel's Pocket Avatars app maps human expressions to avatars in a mobile chat

Intel's Pocket Avatars 3D mobile chat app uses face-tracking tech (1)

Intel's Pocket Avatars 3D mobile chat app uses face-tracking tech (1)

Intel wants to inject passion and excitement into mobile chat through a new app that relies on face-tracking technology to assess facial expressions and mood.

With Pocket Avatars, users can chat with friends using animated three-dimensional avatars, but there's a twist. A camera on a mobile device tracks a user's face and expressions, and those emotions are reflected on the avatar during a chat.

The avatar serves as an alter-ego for those who don't to put their real face on screen, said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.

"It's just a fun thing on top of standard messaging," Bell said.

Emoticons have been a standard tool for expressions in text messaging. An animated chat that reflects a real person's mood is more engaging, Bell said, adding that if a user is angry or happy, the avatar will show it, Bell said.

The camera captures moving faces, lighting conditions and a range of emotions such as smiles, blinking eyes or kisses. The recordings are processed through an algorithm and then mapped on the avatar in real time. The Pocket Avatars app then deletes the information.

"We are not storing databases with people's faces," Bell said. "We're not selling ads or information. This is about social messaging, using an animated avatar. It's not mining [data]."

One wouldn't expect chat software from Intel, which specializes in making chips. But Intel's research division has a diverse group of scientists and social scientists researching technology and other areas such as health and human behavior. Pocket Avatars was being kicked around the labs for a little while, and it represents the fun side of Intel's research team, Bell said.

Chat and messaging software companies are also being valued highly so there is momentum in that area, Bell said. About 20 trillion over-the-top messages -- messages sent through chat software -- will be sent this year, and Intel wants a piece of that market, Bell said.

"Some of the evaluations of those companies... it's not a joke," Bell said. Facebook said earlier this year it would acquire WhatsApp in a stunning deal worth US$19 billion.

Bell's New Devices Group is also charged with exploring opportunities in the wearables market. Pocket Avatars represents Intel's willingness to experiment and dabble in new areas, Bell said.

But some experiments for Intel haven't panned out. Intel dropped plans to launch a TV service after failing to reach license agreements with content providers, and also shut down its own app store for PCs called AppUp.

Pocket Avatars is free for download and comes with forty avatars. Some avatars are free while others cost $0.99 for unlimited use. The avatars available include famous people, Lego characters and also YouTube star Annoying Orange.

Intel plans to add more avatars and capabilities as the app evolves, Bell said.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileintelmobile applications

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?