Zoom is trying to make its work calls a little more lighthearted while also taking a note from Apple’s Animoji feature.
In a blog post, the company announced that it is bringing built-in avatars to its video calling experience. Zoom says that the avatars will be available for both its Zoom Meetings and its Zoom Webinar products.
Available for Zoom Meetings and Zoom Webinar, Avatars replace your appearance with a virtual animal that mirrors your head movements and facial expressions. Avatars are an easy and entertaining way to engage with attendees and create a bit of fun. They also provide a good middle ground for users who don’t want to appear on camera, but still want to express body language and facial expressions.
Zoom says that privacy is built into the feature as well as images of your face do not leave your device while using the feature. While it recognizes a face, it does not distinguish between individual faces.
When you turn on the Avatars feature during a meeting, Zoom’s technology uses your device’s camera to detect where a face is on the screen and apply the selected avatar effect. Images of your face don’t leave your device when using this feature, and they are not stored or sent to Zoom. This feature does not use facial recognition, which means that it does not identify who you are. So while the Avatars feature can tell what is or is not a face, it does not recognize or distinguish between individual faces. Currently, we are only offering animal avatars at this time, but keep an eye out for updates to this feature and new avatars in the future!
The only avatars that are available at launch are animals, including a dog, cat, rabbit, fox, cow, and raccoon. Users will be able to use the new avatars on the Windows, Mac, and iPhone app.
The feature is similar to Apple’s Animoji, which allows you to turn yourself into an animal on FaceTime and iMessage. Apple also offers Memoji, which lets you create a digital avatar of yourself to use on Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage apps as well.