Have you ever wished you were an alien or a shark? Well, sorry, but you're never going to get to be one. The free Nito app, however, does let you appear as those characters or others, in recorded 15-second videos. It tracks your facial features and movements as you talk, and reproduces them in real time via an animated avatar of your choice.
In Nito's current form, users can choose from 12 avatar characters and a variety of backgrounds – nine of the characters are free, and three cost 99 cents per use. Down the road, users will reportedly be able to create their own avatars or select from an expanded range of others.
After they've chosen a character and background, users then utilize a simple facial grid interface (along with their mobile device's front-facing camera) to map the location of their eyes, nose and mouth, so the app can subsequently track them as they move. After that, they just hit the on-screen record button and start talking.
Their own voice will be recorded, but it will be synced with the face-following avatar. The video can then be shared through social media.
The app currently works with recent-model iOS devices, although Android, PC and Mac versions are said to be on the way soon. It can be downloaded from the App Store.
Nito will likely be facing some competition from the quite similar FaceRig app, which recently wrapped up a successful Indiegogo campaign. Additionally, the Microsoft Avatar Kinect system already allows users to appear as avatars in real-time chat rooms, although it requires the use of a Kinect box.