12 August 2021
Zoom has announced a new avatar functionality to help make video calls fun to attend. The feature will allow you to replace your face with an animated virtual avatar of an animal. The best part is that it will mimic your facial expressions and movements. This is similar to how Memojis work on Apple devices.
Some of the currently available avatars include dog, rabbit, fox, cat, and cow. These do look fun as shown in the featured image at the top. The company has plans to add even more diverse avatars in the future. The new feature is available with Zoom's latest version i.e. v5.10.0 which means you should update the app as soon as possible.
The avatar feature on Zoom is disabled by default. It can be enabled by visiting Meeting settings where you will find a new Avatars toggle. It should be noted that only account owners and group admins can enable them. Another thing to keep in mind is that while using Zoom avatars, you will not be able to use video filters. Virtual backgrounds will continue to work as expected.
The tech behind the feature essentially utilizes your device's camera for face detection and applying the selected avatar. It is used only for detecting a face and not for facial recognition purposes. Zoom further says that images of faces are stored locally and no data is shared with or stored by the company.
The official statement from Zoom says,
"Avatars enable you to replace your appearance with a 3D virtual avatar that mirrors your head movements and facial expressions. Avatars are an easy and entertaining way to engage with your meeting attendees and add a bit of fun. Avatars also provide a good middle ground for users who don’t want to turn on their camera, but still want to leverage the power of body language and facial expressions."