Nvidia’s eye-contact AI is its creepiest update yet

Nvidia has released its most unnerving AI-powered software yet. A new camera feature added in a recent update to the Nvidia Broadcast app edits a live feed so that it looks like someone is always looking into the camera, even if that’s not the case. It’s an unsettling feature that had me shouting and screaming the first time I saw it in real time.

Known as Eye Contact, the feature debuted earlier this month as part of the 1.4 patch for Nvidia Broadcast, software that enhances video for livestreaming and videoconferencing. Nvidia said in a blog post that Eye Contact is intended for content creators who want to maintain eye contact with the camera at all times, even if they’re, say, looking at notes or a script off screen. Now that it’s been out for a few weeks, we have a better idea of what it can do.

In one interesting demo of the feature posted on Twitter, you can see scenes from Jurassic Park edited with Eye Contact so that the actors are always looking (mostly) at the camera. It’s weird and off-putting! Probably even if you’ve never seen the movie before! It’s like the person was so preoccupied with whether or not they could do this that they didn’t stop to think if they should

I hopped into a video call with a The Hamden Journal colleague to see Eye Contact in action myself. It felt uncanny, even though I was just looking at my co-worker the entire time. I think it’s partly because completely uninterrupted eye contact doesn’t feel natural or normal if you’re having a casual conversation. Also, the software isn’t perfect — Nvidia says it’s in the beta stage — so at points he would turn his head and look to the side, and his eyes would snap back to staring directly at the camera; it sort of looked like he was a possessed character from a horror movie.

The Eye Contact feature is yet another example of AI becoming easily usable by everyday consumers. ChatGPT, which can be used for a variety of applications like writing essays, became an overnight sensation due to its natural-language output. Other software like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Free AI Art Generator is being used to create memes and recreate the look of certain directors’ films.

If you, too, would like to use this AI black magic, all you need to do is download Nvidia Broadcast — although your computer will need certain hardware for it to work, including an Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics card; you can view the full system requirements here.