Think back to your childhood. A lot of your friends probably didn’t exist, they were fictional characters like Optimus Prime, or Sailor Moon, or Jessie from Toy Story (this was before the world told you that was silly). You surrounded yourself with their posters, plush toys and picture books, wishing desperately that you could be a part of their world. Well, it seems like the kids of tomorrow might just get your wish.
GDC 2016 just came to a close, and Epic Games demoed a technology that could redefine the way children interact with their fictional heroes. Utilizing the work of computer animation company Cubic Motion, a trailer for the upcoming game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was shown off. The kicker came when it was revealed that the titular Senua was being controlled in real-time by actress Melina Juergens. As she grimaced, whipped her head around and shouted at the voice taunting her, her performance was captured and immediately replicated by Senua in the game.
The demonstration was mighty impressive, promising to streamline the traditionally lengthy facial-capture process, as well as enable new methods of expression in the fields of visual and performing arts. More than that, though, the tech has the potential to redefine the way parents entertain their kids.
Imagine tucking your precious one into bed. They hug their Spongebob plush toy tight, and ask for a story before heading off to slumber town. You hand them your iPad, slip on your facial-capture headset and suddenly their square-panted friend is beaming up at them. He greets them by name, talks as if he knows them as well as they know him, and takes them on a thrilling adventure through the city of Bikini Bottom. Your child is grinning from ear to ear. It’s their wildest dream come to life.
Sure, we might be a whiles away from mainstream pricing and discreet headsets, but we’ll get there. The tech will get smaller, cheaper, easier to use, and the big industries aren’t the only ones who’ll benefit. Technology is often thought of as a barrier between generations, but it doesn’t have to be. It can and will bring us together in ways we can’t even foresee.