Creating a metaverse avatar for the digital world
The metaverse avatar is one of the most exciting components of the new digital era.
The metaverse, considered by many to be the next frontier of the internet, delivers a new, immersive environment where people can connect, learn, and even work.
Using extended reality, 3D imagery, and decentralized web landscapes, the metaverse changes how we interact with technology and each other. However, genuinely embedding ourselves into the multitude of metaverse spaces available today requires a transformation.
We need to create a digital representation of ourselves, capable of traversing virtual worlds on our behalf and connecting with others. Here’s everything you need to know about creating your metaverse avatar for the new age of the internet.
What is a Metaverse Avatar?
A metaverse avatar is a digital representation of a physical human being designed for a specific digital space. While the latest XR headsets might cost you thousands of dollars, anyone can create and use an avatar with nothing more than an internet connection.
Digital avatars aren’t a new concept. Initially, they were popularized during the 80s by video games like Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Developers used avatars in the gaming industry to provide customers with a way to immerse themselves in digital environments and stories.
Experts believed accurately representing ourselves on-screen in a game would help us relate to the characters we controlled.
As the digital world evolved, avatars emerged in other parts of our day-to-day lives. Social media channels like Snap and Facebook began introducing tools to allow users to create their 3D avatars. Even collaboration platforms started investing in avatars for meeting experiences.
Evolving RT3D technology, computer vision tools, and metaverse innovations pave the way to a new future of more hyper-realistic, personalized avatars for every user.
Meta promises to deliver avatars with greater expression, depth, and realism than ever, using AI and facial tracking tools within the Quest Pro.
Over the years, avatars have evolved from being simple cartoonish characters. They could soon become essential components of our growing digital identity, used by people all over the globe.
Why are Avatars Important to the Metaverse?
A metaverse avatar is a digital representation of a user in the virtual world. Their primary purpose is to make the immersive experiences offered by the metaverse feel more engaging and realistic.
As our digital and real-world identities become increasingly intertwined, avatars give us the power to express ourselves, build relationships with others, and interact with virtual content. Companies are even being developed with a specific focus on avatar creation and customization.
For instance, consumers can use tools like Tafi to dress up and decorate their personalized avatars with branded NFTs from global companies.
While a metaverse avatar is primarily a tool for self-expression, these tools can serve many other purposes. Interacting with an avatar in an immersive collaboration environment can strengthen employee bonds, improving company culture and inclusivity.
Companies can even use avatars to build deeper relationships with customers. Companies investing in their own metaverse and XR environments regularly use avatars of self-service reps to support clients, put them at ease, and provide a more humanized experience.
Some businesses are even creating digital avatars as new AI influencers and digital spokespeople, with their own social media following and online personality.
In some parts of the world, metaverse avatars are even used for health purposes. Studies have shown they can help to teach social and interaction skills to autistic children. Avatars can also delight and engage visitors at events in the media and entertainment world.
The Evolving Types of Metaverse Avatar
Learning how to create a metaverse avatar starts with understanding the options available. Initially, before the “metaverse” surged into the spotlight, most avatars were 2-dimensional characters, or cartoon versions of users.
Following the rise of 3D modeling technologies and extended reality, avatars started to take on more depth and life. Some are still relatively simplistic, like the game-based avatars on Roblox. Others are intended to be more hyper-realistic, like Meta’s evolving VR avatars.
The most common avatars used in the metaverse today are a combination of:
- Legless VR avatars: A relatively simple VR avatar designed to showcase just a user’s torso, face, and occasionally arms. They’re often powered by face-tracking features to support the communication of emotion and context.
- Full-body avatars: Powered by comprehensive full-body sensors, full-body avatars can replicate all of the movements of a user’s body in the XR environment. They can also be designed to represent every part of a human being fully.
- Cartoon avatars: Common in metaverse environments like Roblox or on social media platforms like Snap, cartoon-style avatars simplify a person’s persona. They’re intended to be more basic to reduce the uncanny valley effect of some virtual characters.
How to Create a Metaverse Avatar
Creating a metaverse avatar depends heavily on the tools and platforms you use. Most companies investing in the metaverse have their own avatar-building tools, each with its own unique features and capabilities.
For instance, on a social platform like Facebook, you can create an avatar from various skin tones, facial features, and clothing items. With more advanced tools like Union Avatars, you can create an avatar using a photo of yourself.
Some of the most popular metaverse avatar creators include:
1. The Meta Avatar Maker
Any Meta user can create an avatar for their profile using their Meta Quest headset. Currently, Meta is working on making these avatars more realistic, but they’re already highly customizable.
All you need to do to create your Metaverse avatar is to put it on your headset, select a profile picture, and then click the “edit” button on the navigation menu. This avatar can be used in any application supporting Meta avatar technology, such as Horizon Worlds.
2. Microsoft Mesh Avatars
If you plan on making a metaverse avatar for collaboration purposes, the Microsoft Mesh solution could be ideal. Microsoft started rolling 3D avatar functionality out for Teams and Zoom Meetings in May 2023.
There are a couple of ways to make an avatar with Microsoft Mesh. One option is to select the three dots above the store icon in the Teams home screen. They can then search for “mesh avatar” to download the app and start customizing. Alternatively, you can select “Effects and Avatars” during a Teams meeting to create your avatar for a collaboration session.
3. Spatial Metaverse Avatars
Spatial is one of the pioneers in the metaverse landscape, particularly regarding enterprise use cases. The company uses telepresence to connect users with their teams using VR headsets, mobile apps, and interactive web browsers.
Every user with a Spatial account can create their own unique custom avatar by uploading a headshot or photo. The tech in the platform will then create a unique avatar based on your appearance, which you can customize according to your preferences. There are even two types of full-bodied avatars to choose from and an avatar store for accessories.
4. Ready Player Me Avatars
Another innovator in the metaverse avatar space, Ready Player Me, has introduced a new generation of highly bespoke avatars to the public. You can create an avatar by visiting the website and clicking the “create avatar” button. From here, users can choose a body type and upload a photo.
The AI system uses the image to generate an avatar that looks exactly like the user, which can be customized with different clothing and accessories. You can also create an avatar entirely from scratch without uploading a photo.
5. Bitmoji Avatars
If you’re looking for a slightly simpler metaverse avatar intended primarily for social media, then Bitmoji could be the ideal solution. Using SDKs, Bitmoji allows users to create cartoon avatars and import them into various games and apps, including Snapchat.
Users simply need to fill out their account credentials and choose a default avatar that looks like them. They can then take a selfie to customize the avatar with their specific features.
The Future of the Metaverse Avatar
The metaverse avatar is evolving at an incredible rate. As extended reality, immersion, and digital identities develop, avatars are increasingly impressive.
Soon, we won’t just be limited to creating avatars that look like us to traverse the digital plains. We’ll also be able to use our avatars to express ourselves however we like, adjust our online identity, and even combine the virtual and real worlds.
One day, we could even use avatars with mixed reality to present classes, host meetings, or participate in live events. As the real and virtual worlds continue to draw closer together, avatars will likely play an essential part in our lives.
Through these tools, we can navigate the digital world like never before, express ourselves, and build bonds with people from all over the globe.