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  • By The Financial District

Critics Rip Zuckerberg For His Cartoonish Avatar In Meta's Horizon World VR

Mark Zuckerberg has bet his company's future on an ambitious long-term vision of people carrying out greater portions of their lives in virtual spaces through digital alter egos.

Photo Insert: The infamous avatar

But an image Zuckerberg recently posted on his Facebook page served as a reality check of sorts for virtual reality, at least in its current form, Rachel Metz reported for CNN Business.

The image, which was also included in a company blog post, showed his blocky, cartoon-like avatar in Facebook-parent Meta's flagship social app, Horizon Worlds, staring out into the distance with enormous, vacant-looking eyes and a tight-lipped smile.

In the background, plopped onto a field of green grass, were simple-looking models of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, to mark the launch of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain in mid-August.

The criticism online came swiftly. "Imagine spending billions on the metaverse and your avatar looks like this!" one Twitter user wrote. "Mark Zuckerberg invents The Sims!" another tweeted.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Days later, Zuckerberg himself admitted the image was "pretty basic" and posted a screenshot of a more detailed version of his avatar, saying that "major updates" to Horizon and avatar graphics are "coming soon."

He promised to share more details at Connect, Meta's annual conference focused on VR and augmented reality, which is held in the fall.

Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

Meta is not alone in the blocky simplicity of its VR avatars. Meta, Rec Room, and Microsoft's AltSpaceVR, among others, have been working for years to improve the appearance of their avatars and make them increasingly customizable.

Those who mocked how Zuckerberg looked in Horizon Worlds were probably expecting much more realistic illustrations from a giant company such as Meta, given the realism of characters in popular video games like "Call of Duty" or "Gears of War," Ghosh said.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

"But I guess people don't understand the effort that goes into high-end visual effects," he said, which in the video game realm can include a team of artists dedicated to modeling characters' appearances.

At its most basic, untethered headsets like Meta's Quest 2 still have a slew of technical limitations that make it hard for apps to offer extremely detailed VR avatars that can also respond in real-time to the ways we move our faces and other body parts.

There can be limitations related to the power of the computer, graphics processor, and the amount of included RAM.

Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

Moreover, most people currently using VR don't use extra sensors to track their entire bodies, so sensor-based tracking is limited to what's built into the headset and any accompanying hand controllers. (This is also why avatars on some social apps, such as Horizon Worlds and Rec Room, exist only from the torso upwards).

Essentially, today's headsets can only render so many of the triangles that are used to make up 3-D images in VR, explained Timmu Tõke, CEO and co-founder of avatar creation platform Ready Player Me, which lets people create avatars that they can use across a range of games and apps such as VRChat. This means that if a social app wants to include high-definition avatars, it will only be able to support a handful of people in a scene.

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