If you asked a random person what they knew about online broadcasting 5 years ago, they likely wouldn’t know much. The pandemic changed that and now almost everyone has had experience with it. Between Zoom, Cisco Webex, and Microsoft Teams, I’ve had my own fair share of online conferences and lectures. I’ve witnessed how new features were being added regularly such as virtual backgrounds to make the broadcast more lively or real as possible. While the pandemic is now behind us, the progress made in online broadcasting these few years is still vital to some professions.
Experts say the shift to hybrid work in many industries was inevitable and was only accelerated. While some things went back to how they were before, others are here to stay. Patients are now able to reach their doctors for online consultations, students from one country may study in another without traveling and people from all around the globe can collaborate without being in the same place.
I’m looking at you
In such a broadcasting-oriented world, NVIDIA came to be one of the main players in the industry. Between working on VR technology, GPU manufacturing, gaming, and a few more, they came up with NVIDIA Broadcast. The platform promises to turn any room into a home studio. Throughout the years, they have implemented features such as cutting-edge noise removal for both audio and video, AI-based virtual backgrounds, and automatic framing. Their latest and weirdest update to it introduced the eye contact effect.
While this sounds and looks weird and even gives a sort of “uncanny valley” feel, it has many potential uses. First and foremost, it gets rid of the awkwardness of having to look at the screen all the time to show you’re interested. I witnessed firsthand how some struggled with people incorrectly assuming they weren’t following the discussion all because they weren’t staring at their cameras. Another use case would be for presenting while reading. NVIDIA themselves mention how presenters will have a much easier life being able to keep engagement high while also reading their notes on the side.
Maintaining eye contact virtually
Powered by AI, it moves the speaker’s eyes toward the camera, making it appear as if they’re making eye contact. The eyes keep their natural color and even blink, giving the speaker realistic and engaging visual feedback. In case the speaker looks away, the Eye Contact feature smoothly transitions to the real eyes.
Not everyone has taken this positively. Some just can’t get over the weirdness of it all while others point out how this can encourage unproductive behaviors. Currently, it’s GPU requirements may be too demanding for many. But whether you are a fan of it or not, the eye contact effect seems like it is here to stay.
really love the nvidia eye contact filter very cool and not scary pic.twitter.com/qFLXFTZYD6
— breebunn (@breebunn) February 3, 2023
This effect is not perfect. There have been reports of glitches and unwanted behavior. NVIDIA makes clear that this is still in beta and invites users to test it and report any issues. There are millions of eye color and video illumination combinations after all. Meanwhile, we can prepare ourselves for a world of broadcasts where nothing is what it seems and people staring at their cameras may be doing something else on the side.
YouTube: NVIDIA Broadcast 1.4 Update Featuring Eye Contact