New Software Can Mimic Eye Contact For Video Calls

Videoconferencing apps like Skype are great for making conversations with remote friends and colleagues a bit more personal. But for all their benefits, video calls have one major drawback: lack of eye contact.

When videoconferencing, your eyes tend to focus on the person you’re talking to. Unfortunately their location on a computer screen is typically lower than where the webcam is located. The result: It always looks as if everyone in the conversation is looking down on — rather than at — each other.

A new technology from the Computer Graphics Laboratory at ETH Zurich is looking to correct this issue with a piece of software that recognizes and rotates people’s faces in video calls to make it appear as though they’re looking into the camera. The results are pretty amazing.

Now only available for larger companies, the software could ultimately be used with consumer webcams for the same effect.

In the software’s current form, webcams have to be equipped with depth sensors in order for it to work. Most devices currently on the market don’t have webcams with depth sensors, however, in part because of their higher cost. Eventually, the team hopes to adapt the technology, so that it can also be used with standard webcams.

Do you think eye contact is important when videoconferencing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


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