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Facebook Parent Meta Builds New AI Platform to Create More-Realistic Avatars

An avatar of Mark Zuckerberg sitting at a desk in a virtual reality workspace.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's avatar in a virtual reality workspace. 
Facebook

What's happening

Facebook parent company Meta said it's created a new AI platform that builds realistic simulations of the muscles, bones and joints that enable humans to move.

Why it matters

Studying the human body's musculoskeletal system could help Meta create more-realistic avatars in virtual worlds.

What's next

The social media giant is challenging researchers to improve these models.

Facebook parent company Meta said Monday that it's created a new artificial intelligence platform that could help the social media giant develop more-realistic avatars for virtual worlds.

Today, avatars that exist in digital spaces look like cartoons and don't move as fluidly as humans do in real life. Meta thinks the key to improving these avatars could be in learning more about the bones, muscles and joints that make up the human body's musculoskeletal system.

A simulation of a human skeleton rotating a grey and blue pen.

This musculoskeletal simulation can perform complex movements such as twirling a pen. 

Meta

The company's AI team developed a platform called MyoSuite that creates realistic musculoskeletal models more efficiently than existing ones. Workers can train these models to mimic complex movements such as twirling a pen or rotating a key, helping researchers simulate what would happen after certain surgeries such as tendon transfers. A tendon transfer involves moving the tissue that connects human muscles to bones to help restore movement to a part of the body like a hand or foot. 

"This research could accelerate development of prosthetics, physical rehab, and surgery techniques. It could also help us develop more realistic avatars for the metaverse," Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement about MyoSuite. 

Meta said it's opening up the musculoskeletal models built through MyoSuite to researchers. It's also challenging researchers to help the company improve the models so they can simulate more challenging tasks such as rotating two metal Baoding balls in one hand. 

The launch of the new AI platform is another example of how Meta is doubling down on building the metaverse, virtual spaces where people will be able to work, play and socialize. As Meta focuses more on creating more-realistic virtual people and environments, problems such as harassment and hate speech will likely be tougher for the social media giant to moderate as people use more gestures and sounds to interact with others.