Social VR is a technology that many of companies are striving to perfect, as it essentially realizes the dream of teleportation and holograms, allowing users to transport to almost any location to hang out with their friends and family. Facebook has been pouring quite a bit of money into this tech to make the future happen as fast as possible, but there are other players that are taking a different angle in the space. MindMaze is one of these companies, and is looking to use its MASK headset along with its $1 billion valuation to read your emotions and translate them into a virtual space.
Right now the headset can only recognize a few emotions, including smiling, winking, frowning, smirking, and raising your eyebrows, but the company is planning on adding a bunch of new expressions in the future. Much of human emotion is portrayed with the eyes, so until eye-tracking technology can get perfected, we may be left with a relatively limited set of options for expression. Still, the headset can apparently mimic supported expression to a surprising level. The mask has electrodes lined along the face pad, which can sense your facial muscles as you flex them and proceeds to translate them into the virtual space. Using physical electrodes vs camera-based face tracking is much faster and more accurate, so it makes sense that investors would want to pour money into the project.
MindMaze already makes a decent amount of cash as it sells headsets directly to hospitals, which it uses to help rehabilitate stroke victims and amputees. In this way it doesn’t have to worry about running strictly on investor funding, so they have quite a bit of cash to work with.
The company says that its consumer product is going to cost less than $40, which is unprecedented for the virtual reality industry. VR accessories are generally pretty pricey, so it would be great to be able to add such precise tracking for a low price.
Are you interested in social VR? As the technology gets more precise we will head towards a much more Star-Trekian reality.