Google’s next trick is bringing your face into virtual reality

(Image credit: Google)

For those unable to just "try it first to see if you like it," mixed reality video can be immensely helpful in showing off virtual reality experiences to those without a fancy VR headset.

There's usually just one little hitch, though: the wearer in these videos has a big ol' headset strapped to their mug that prevents viewers from seeing their expressions or eye movement. That may not be a snag for long, as Google has a solution.

In conjunction with the tech giant's Daydream Labs studio, Google has devised a clever way to "remove" a headset in mixed reality video - swapping in a 3D model of a person's face.

(Image credit: Google)

Using an HTC Vive and eye-tracking software courtesy of SMI, the fake face can respond to the wearer's expressions and where they're looking - resulting in a visual effect that Google likens to a translucent scuba mask instead of an opaque peripheral.

Of course, the human eye is still pretty good at detecting real faces versus virtual ones, so the effect still has some slight uncanny valley feel to it.

Still, it's more realistic than the cartoony avatars other companies want to use to represent users in a virtual space, and certainly beats the alternative of just watching someone stand around in an empty room with their mouth agape and eyes covered.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.