It’s getting harder to ignore the headset Mark Zuckerberg is working on. A hundred new stories about it are being published every day, and this week Zuckerberg announced, to great attention, that the headset world’s horrible little avatars — at the moment floating torsos — would “soon” have legs.
“I know you’ve been waiting for this,” Zuckerberg said about the legs at a Meta Connect event on Tuesday, and actually I was not. I don’t believe there are many people on this planet who care about the legs or what happens inside of Zuck’s hideous little Meta world, aside from editors who can assign stories about journalists going into the world, to appease their bosses who have seen stories about other journalists going into the world elsewhere. Ideally I would have never heard about the legs, but we live in hell and accordingly I had to know about them to the tune of 40 million tweets:
Legs are coming soon. Legs are coming soon. Legs are coming soon — yes, unfortunately I know that, very much, and yet — excuse me? The news today is that actually, they are not. The legs are not coming soon. The legs we saw in the leg announcement video were fake. They are a lie. Meta has since issued a follow-up statement, saying, “To enable this preview of what’s to come, the segment featured animations created from motion capture.”
Okay. So there aren’t even any fucking legs. The legs we were talking about so much — already so stupid — aren’t even real. They don’t exist. This is what we are doing with our lives, tweeting about the new existence of legs that don’t even exist. When we discussed the legs this morning in Slack, my colleague Jack Koloskus, a web designer and by far the most computer-y guy on staff, said, “I knew it.” Then he said, “legs are super hard.” What? I asked him to elaborate and he obliged.
“Basically, if you think about the sensors that are required for realistic looking leg movement compared to realistic looking arm movement, you will need to at the bare minimum double the existing equipment, but probably add even more than that.”
“The arm animation works because of what's called Inverse Kinematics, which basically approximates arm position based on where it detects your hands as being in relationship to your head, and how we know humans use their arm joints/what the absolute limits of those are.”
“The IK math for the arms works because you also have sensors on your head which is both pretty stable and close to your arms on the kinematic chain. If you were to, say, only add sensors to the feet there's a whole world of data you'd have to just make up about the middle of the body that would often be wrong and likely push the models into the uncanny valley.”
“Because you are a fellow artist [Ed note: true] imagine you were drawing a picture of a person and this was the info you had:”
“You and i both know this person could either be a normal sized person who looks like this:”
“Ot some crazy guy who has super long legs and looks like this:”
“The point is you need at least three more sensors, absolute minimum, but probably more. Other VR companies have solved this problem, but what that looks like is basically covering yourself in sensors that cost $130 each.”
Now I know even more about these fucking legs that don’t even EXIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!