On Wednesday, September 15th, Loom.ai, whose avatar technology appears on eighty million Samsung phones, launched LoomieLive Pro, a desktop app that brings cartoon avatars to Zoom, Meet, Teams, and other video conferencing platforms. We’ve been using it to surprise students and amuse colleagues in situations where some levity might brighten an otherwise typical Zoom call. This fall, you can use it for free.
Loom.ai was founded in 2016 by Dreamworks animation executive Mahesh Ramasubramanian (CEO) and his childhood friend, co-founder Kiran Bhat, who had been working at Lucasfilm. Their goal was to bring face tracking, avatar animation, or avateering, to smartphones. The SF-based company has raised $5.9 from VCs led by Samsung Ventures, Dentsu Ventures, and DHVC.
Given the company’s pedigree in animation, it’s not surprising that one of its most distinctive features is its unique avatar creation tool, which transforms a picture of you into a personalized avatar, and then allows you to modify it further. You can also choose from a number of stock avatars, both serious and silly.
“LoomieLive Pro uses voice, video, and AR to bring the avatar to life,” explained Bhat, “lip-syncing the avatar is most critical, but what makes the simulation work is the gestures, things like laughter, and subtleties like blinking empathetically while listening.” LoomieLive allows users to combine their avatar with an immersive 3D environment, or use the virtual backgrounds featured on Zoom, which are found in the camera dropdown at the bottom on the screen.
We’ve also been using Snap Camera to brighten our Zoom calls. Introduced in the fall of 2018, Snap Camera is a free application designed to enable desktop users to throw up rainbows and enjoy other signature Snap Camera effects. Like Snap Camera, LoomieLive Pro easily integrates itself into YouTube, Hangouts (now Google Meet), Skype (now Teams), Twitch and other many other video conference platforms.
Zoom itself recently added a limited number of proprietary Snap-like AR lenses that use face-tracking technology to anchor filters and effects to both faces and planes Zoom already offers a variety of backgrounds that enable users to hide the personal space around them and allows users to hide their identity or add their own photos and videos.
“There are a lot of times an avatar comes in handy,” said Ramasubramanian. “People are already sensitive about sharing their personal space on video calls, and we saw on mobile they’re just as sensitive about their appearance. Your avatar is always ready to go, even if you’re still in your shorts and a T-shirt.”