If you, like me, can't exactly muster as much enthusiasm for your Zoom happy hour as you could in, say, March, you might be suffering from Zoom fatigue. The phenomenon, which refers to the exhaustion felt from constant face-to-face video conferencing, makes it challenging to remain connected to friends, family, and colleagues while we continue to socially distance. But while I'm definitely losing steam on my concealer and mascara application pre-Zoom calls, I definitely don't want to be that one person in the team all-hands who turns off their camera. Which is why I'm dabbling in avatars.
This week, Loom.ai, a tech company that builds and animates 3D avatars, launched LoomieLive, a free platform that lets users create personalized voice-driven avatars for use on any video conferencing service. While you speak, your avatar lip-syncs in real time and looks directly into the camera on the call, even when you don't. Which means you're free to look down at your notes, turn away from your screen momentarily, get out of your chair to stretch, or even go to bathroom — all while your avatar appears engaged in conversation, speaking your exact words. It also means no more showing your coworkers your home office — or, for many of us, your bed-turned-desk.
To create your own Loomie, you first need to download the Loomie app on either iOS or Android. The app will immediately create an avatar based on your selfie, which you can further personalize like you would a Memoji, from hair to accessories to makeup. From here, download the desktop LoomieLive camera (and sign in using your Loomie login), where you'll see the avatar you created and can test it using 16 office-, scifi-, and nature-themed backgrounds available on the platform. While your Loomie avatar doesn't mirror your physical actions (since it just pulls from your audio, not video), you can still make your avatar give a thumbs up, wave, and laugh using the buttons on the right hand panel of the LoomieLive desktop app.
LoomieLive works the same way on Zoom as Snap Camera does. Select the up arrow next to the Stop Video button in the bottom left corner of your Zoom video conference. From here, select LoomieLive Camera underneath the Select A Camera menu. This will pull video input from LoomieLive, and will reflect your avatar instead of your FaceTime HD camera input. This also applies to Google Hangouts, Skype, Webex, and Microsoft Teams — just select LoomieLive as the video input option in settings. Since we're likely going to be Zooming for awhile, you might want to create an avatar for those times you don't feel like getting out of bed... but don't exactly want your boss to know.