Intel Pocket Avatars is a new app just released on iOS and Android that might be more cutesy than our usual interest, but the technology behind it is very impressive. In short, the app lets you record messages in real time to a cartoon avatar that recognizes head, mouth, eye and eyebrow movement—like this one. There are a bunch of avatars to choose from including animals and presidential characters, plus ones from partners like Lego. Messages can be sent to friends in the app, but considering the challenge of getting some people to adopt yet another chat app, the animated recordings can also be sent via SMS or through your favorite social channel.
The real-time facial recognition and animation rendering technology behind Pocket Avatars is born from Intel Labs, the research and development arm of Intel that has developed many software solutions in the past. We were privileged to see rudimentary versions of this algorithm back in 1999, but at that point it required several large supercomputers to run. Today, processors are so small and fast that the same technology can be delivered on a mobile phone.