3D Modeling Tech Virtualizes Your Face with Only Webcam Images

By Sam Cook

A system designed at Japan's Waseda University can quickly convert a 2D picture into a 3D face model, creating a simple way to import player faces into games.

Remember the first time you played a Metroid Prime game, and a nearby explosion showed you the reflection of Samus’ face in her visor? What if instead that had been the reflection of your own face? And what if, when you play Left 4 Dead, you saw the faces of the other human players on their survivor characters? Those kinds of experiences could become a reality thanks to tech developed by two researchers at Japan’s Waseda University.

The team has created a system that quickly converts 2D photos of faces into 3D models, which can then be made to move realistically on screen. And while that kind of technology is nothing new, the unique thing about the Waseda setup is that it requires no range scanners or other special equipment—the processing can be done with an ordinary webcam photo. 

Webcams are a fairly common PC technology, and both Sony and Microsoft are looking to put cameras in front of their game consoles, so it seems like a good time to get game developers interested in this kind of system. Importing real faces into games could provide immersive, interesting experiences, especially in multiplayer.