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Roblox has acquired Loom.ai for an undisclosed price to enable its users to create realistic 3D avatars. In addition, Roblox said that the company is postponing its initial public offering to 2021, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Loom.ai surfaced in 2016, with the goal of automating the creation of 3D avatars from a single selfie. Today, Roblox said Loom.ai enables real-time facial animation tech using deep learning neural networks, computer vision, and visual effects.

Roblox has more than 36 million daily active users in its virtual world, where players create their own games and experiences. With this acquisition, Roblox joins Epic Games in the race to build realistic avatars that would be necessary for creating the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. Roblox recently hosted a number of Ready Player Two experiences in honor of the sequel book from Ernest Cline, and Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki will be a speaker at our GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse event on January 27.

“From our very first meeting with David Baszucki, it was clear we share a vision where art and engineering meet to create an exciting range of personalized avatars and characters,” said Loom.ai cofounder Kiran Bhat in a statement. “We will continue our work on that vision to bring real-time and real-life emotions to every Roblox avatar.”

San Francisco-based Loom.ai has founders who worked on visual effects for DreamWorks and Lucasfilm. Their goal was to enable users on social networks to use 3D avatars that could express emotion. If I were to hazard a guess, this isn’t about Roblox wanting to make its cartoon-like avatars become more realistic, as if we were seeing videos of people. Rather, it’s about trying to express emotion through the existing cartoon style.

Meanwhile, Roblox was expected to stage its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange before the end of the year, after filing for an IPO in November. The Wall Street Journal said today that the IPO would take place in January at the earliest.

Roblox declined to comment on the IPO. Loom.ai founders Mahesh Ramasubramanian and Bhat said their dream come true is the opportunity to build real-life facial expressions with real emotion for millions of Roblox players.

“In the future, Roblox players can imagine watching their favorite music artist singing with facial expressions during a virtual concert or interacting with friends in a life-like, interactive way,” the Loom. ai founders said. “The expression of emotions that will be brought to life by the Roblox community is limitless.”

Loom.ai will end its current product in the first half of 2021.

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