The cameras in Apple devices may one day detect and use your blood flow to create a personalized avatar for you. The company has been granted a patent (number US 11830182 B1) for “Machine Learning-based Blood Flow Tracking.”
About the patent
The patent relates generally to image processing and, more particularly, to techniques and systems for generating and utilizing a blood flow texture map for rendering an avatar (computerized characters that represent and are controlled by users). Avatars may take a wide variety of forms including virtual humans, animals, and plant life.
Some computer products include avatars with facial expressions that are driven by a user’s facial expressions. One use of facially-based avatars is in communication, where a camera and microphone in a first device transmits audio and real-time 2D or 3D avatar of a first user to one or more second users such as other mobile devices, desktop computers, videoconferencing systems and the like.
In the patent Apple says that known existing systems tend to be computationally intensive, requiring high-performance general and graphics processors, and generally don’t work well on mobile devices, such as smartphones or computing tablets. Further, the company says that existing avatar systems do not generally provide the ability to communicate nuanced facial representations or emotional states.
Apple’s patent involves systems, methods, and computer readable media to utilize a machine learning based blood flow tracking technique for generating an avatar. To generate a photorealistic avatar, blood flow can be mimicked based on facial expressions a subject may make. That is, blood moves around a face differently when a person talks or makes different facial expressions, or performs any other movement that deforms the face.
As the blood moves, the coloration of the subject’s face may change due to the change in blood flow (e.g., where the subject’s blood is concentrated under the skin). Apple says the process may include a training phase and an application phase.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Rendering an avatar may include determining an expression to be represented by an avatar, obtaining a blood texture map associated with the expression, wherein the blood texture map represents an offset of coloration from an albedo map for the expression, and rendering the avatar utilizing the blood texture map.”