Facebook Is Learning How To Automatically Create An Avatar From A Photo

by • October 26, 2017 • FacebookComments Off on Facebook Is Learning How To Automatically Create An Avatar From A Photo2969

Do you love avatars, but have given up on trying to create the perfect one yourself? Facebook might soon be able to do it for you.

Avatars are regaining popularity on social media. Of course, Bitmoji (and Snapchat) are the top contributors to this revival. But building the perfect avatar, can be a difficult and time-consuming task. Unless some machine could do it for you…

Facebook’s AI researchers claim they have created a machine learning system that can automatically build a Bitmoji-like avatar from any profile photo. The research (PDF) was presented at the International Conference on Computer Vision.


Facebook’s research team took an original approach. The team chose to work with existing avatar tools such as emoji, Bitmoji, Mii or other available platforms. What Facebook does, is simply teaching the machine to build an avatar in the same way humans would do it: by “looking” at the photo and building the avatar using the tools available.

What the machine is able to do better than humans, is to apply feature identification algorithms simultaneously to both the photo and avatar as if they were of the same person. And it does that until the resulting numbers are as equal as possible, meaning the avatar is now a really close reproduction of the face in the photo.


In this figure from the paper, the source images are at left, then manually configured emoji (not used in the system, just for comparison), then attempts by several variations of the algorithm, then similar attempts in a 3D avatar system.

Now, why is Facebook interested in building an automatic Avatar design platform? The only obvious answer would be…. VR. We all know the company is investing massively in building the new VR experience. And from the few live demonstrations carried out by Mark Zuckerberg himself, we have seen how avatars are taking the centre stage in Facebook’s vision for VR.

At some point, our avatars may automatically update over time as we update our profile pictures!

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