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June 19, 2014

Intel launches face-tracking avatar app

Pocket Avatars released to show off Intel's facial recognition tech.

By Ben Sullivan

Intel has launched an instant messaging app for smartphones that uses face tracking technology to read the user’s facial expressions.

The app, called Pocket Avatars, was launched by Intel executive Mike Bell.

Pocket Avatars uses the smartphone’s camera and microphone to record a voice message whilst analysing the sender’s face. The expression is then translated into a matching emoticon that shows the sender’s facial expressions and head movements, including smiles and blinks.

Bell said that the free app, available on Android smartphones and iPhones, is to demonstrate Intel’s facial tracking technology.

He said: "Rather than let it sit in a lab and languish, we thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to show people?’

"It’s fun and easy to explain what it does, but it’s actually pretty complex behind the scenes."

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The app includes avatars from the Lego series, some Care Bears, and characters from The Jim Henson Company. Other characters are available for 99 cents.

Last week, Intel raised its second-quarter revenue forecast, claiming that its annual sales in PCs will increase for the first time since 2011.

Intel said sales this quarter should be $13.7 billion, plus or minus $300 million. This is slightly higher than an earlier projection of $13 billion, plus or minus $500 million.

Intel nailed a higher PC shipment volume on the increase in profit, with the gross margin of sales after deducting production costs being 64%.

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