You’re probably more than a little tired of video meetings at this (hopefully late) stage of the pandemic, but Zoom thinks it can inject some life into them. The company has introduced avatars that replace your head with a 3D character that mimics your facial expressions — effectively, it’s Apple’s Animoji for virtual offices and classrooms. Only animals like cats, dogs and foxes are available for now, but Zoom is teasing more avatars in the future.
You’ll need Zoom 5.10.0 or later on iOS, Mac and Windows devices. The company stressed that this doesn’t use facial recognition. The software is just looking for the presence of a face, not yours in particular.
It won’t be surprising if the novelty wears out quickly, as it has for Animoji and other digital stand-ins. However, Zoom suggests avatars could be practical in some cases. Avatars let you avoid showing your real face on camera without removing all facial expressions, the company said. This might also be useful for teachers and pediatric doctors wanting to lift the moods of children. If nothing else, they could provide some much-needed silliness in the middle of a dull business seminar.