Meta announces expanded features for its 3D avatars across its Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and VR platforms

In Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality News

January 31, 2022 – Meta has announced that it is expanded features for its avatars, adding new facial shapes and assistive devices for people with disabilities. The company will also be adding limited-time shirts for NFL fans to outfit their avatars in celebration of the upcoming Superbowl LVI on February 13, 2022.

The company is first rolling out its updated 3D Avatars to Facebook and Messenger, and for the first time Instagram Stories and DMs. Starting today people in the US, Canada, and Mexico will be able to show up as their virtual self across apps via stickers, feed posts, Facebook profile pictures and more, according to the company.

Virtual reality (VR) and Quest are key parts of the company’s metaverse vision, but Meta states that it sees the metaverse as an interconnected digital world, one that bridges VR and AR (augmented reality), in addition to more familiar platforms like smartphones and computers. As a result, the company noted that rolling out avatars across its platforms is an early step towards making its vision of the metaverse a reality.

This latest update will add Cochlear implants and over-the-ear hearing aids (for one or both ears) in a variety of colors, and on all platforms including VR. It also includes wheelchairs, which will appear in stickers on Facebook, in Messenger chats and in DMs on Instagram. 

Meta is also improving the look of Avatars and has adjusted certain facial shapes and tweaked skin shaders to make avatars more authentic and representative for individual users.

An example of the same avatar last April (left) versus now.

This update is in addition to the work the company did throughout 2021, adding new eyes and noses, beards and hairstyles, outfits, body types and more. Meta stated that it will also continue to add new items to the Avatar editor throughout 2022.

Meta has also partnered with the NFL to bring NFL football fandom to Avatars, giving fans a chance to show off and celebrate their favorite teams. From now until February 28, users will be able to outfit their avatars to support the Cincinnati Bengals or Los Angeles Rams, as well as a neutral Super Bowl LVI shirt.

As a result of the roll out of 3D Avatars across Meta’s platforms, users will now be able to show up as their avatar in Facebook profile pictures, as well as in comments, stickers, stories, and more. Today’s announcement also marks the first time any of the company’s Avatars have been available on Instagram.

Meta has also made it so that users are able to represent themselves differently on different platforms. Right now, users can create three different avatars if they choose—one for Facebook and Messenger, another for Instagram and a third for VR. Furthermore, if users have set up Accounts Center and chosen to sync their avatar, any changes made on Facebook and Messenger will automatically appear on Instagram as well, and vice versa. Over time, the  company’s goal is to eventually make it easy and seamless to move avatars from place to place – something that ultimately aligns with the company’s future metaverse plans.

For more information on Meta and its VR and AR ambitions for the metaverse, please visit the company’s website.

Image credit: Meta

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.