Nito has created the ability to “become” an animated version of yourself online.
Now that ‘instant digital cosplay’ has been made possible with tracking equipment that most people probably have – just a computer or mobile device with a webcam – the market is heating up. Earlier this year we heard of Facerig, an Indiegogo-funded project that will cater to gamers through the Steam network. Now a more widely distributed platform for chatting as a 3D avatar is about to come to iOS. Nito can transpose users’ facial movements and mannerisms onto 12 different 3D avatars and use them to send 15-second video messages. The messages are designed to work with nine different social media and messaging platforms so far, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, SMS and email.
Nito is more oriented toward sending greetings rather than communicating in real time, like FaceRig; it will be interesting to see which model gains more popularity among a general audience. FaceRig seems to be targeted at gamers that spend extended periods of time on a conventional computer, in front of its camera, and who want to embody a separate online identity, a la Second Life; Nito, on the other hand, seems to target people who don’t spend as much time in online virtual worlds, and perhaps need an introduction to the fun experience of embodying an animated character. Cofounder and CEO Hoyt David Morgan tells us that live chat is in the works, however, making the app a more direct competitor for FaceRig.
Nito‘s integration into social media, instead of gaming platforms, seems to fit both its current state and this future goal. The American Genius sees Nito as a platform ripe for brand-building, but with the platform thus far focusing on 12 pre-existing characters, a customization feature, which seems to be in the works, will have to appear first before brands can hope to project a unique image using the platform. An upcoming pro version for studios and agencies, says Morgan, will allow for such customization. The company is also working on getting “famous licensed characters” to appear – imagine talking to someone under the guise of Bugs Bunny, or of Warner Bros. using the software to quickly and easily interact with fans of the character.
Nito, with more organized financial backing as opposed to the crowdfunding that has slowed FaceRig’s appearance on the market, also boasts better underlying technology, says Morgan. “We dynamically understand and track facial expressions and movements vs. FaceRig, which relies on a third party methodology relying on a database learning system.” Perhaps even animated movies could one day be produced using this technology. Better keep that in mind next time your Skype partner shows up as a talking fox.