A new interactive feature is joining Zoom’s other digital experiences for home offices or boardrooms. The company is going full Snapchat with new animal avatars joining Zoom’s virtual backgrounds, filters, and immersive scenes.
The avatar replaces the caller’s appearance with a virtual animal. Picture the filters in Snapchat that mirror your facial expressions and movements. The avatars are only available in animal form at the moment, but the company says to watch out for updates in future.
Zoom says its tech detects faces on-device when the avatar effect is applied. It also doesn’t use facial recognition, so it’s got no way to establish your identity if you make use of it. The feature can apparently recognise a face, but it doesn’t know how individual faces work.
The company outlines a variety of scenarios for when it’s okay to use an animal avatar. If you’re a member of the furry community, you probably already have a list. For everyone else, Zoom reckons the new feature has its place during team-building meetings, in the education sector, especially around story-time, and in the pediatric care area. They don’t point out the obvious — you should probably not use the new animal avatars during online job interviews.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen animal-related Zoom antics. Last year, lawyer Rod Ponton appeared in court via Zoom with one of the beta animal avatars switched on. In front of a judge is not the ideal place to utilize a cat filter. Ponton uttered the cat-astrophic words, “I promise I’m not a cat,” not realising his appearance had been altered. Ponton’s kid had messed with Zoom prior to good ol’ dad jumping on his call. One of the judges had to explain that the lawyer looked like Snowball. Yes, fur-real.