Samsung’s ‘artificial human’ project definitely looks like a digital avatar
On Friday we wrote about the enigmatic Neon project of Samsung’s’ artificial human,’ speculating that the company was creating realistic human avatars that could be used as guides, receptionists, and more for entertainment and business purposes.
Now, a tweet from the lead of the project and some leaked videos support this pretty much— even though they don’t give us almost enough information to judge how amazing Neon is.
Neon’s lead, Paranav Mistry, computer-human interaction researcher, tweeted the picture below, showing apparently one of the avatars of the project. Mistry says the “Core R3” technology of the company can now “create new gestures, new motions, new dialog (including in Hindi), completely different from the original data captured.”
Flying to CES tomorrow, and the code is finally working 🙂 Ready to demo CORE R3. It can now autonomously create new expressions, new movements, new dialog (even in Hindi), completely different from the original captured data. pic.twitter.com/EPAJJrLyjd
— Pranav Mistry (@pranavmistry) January 5, 2020
Unlisted videos from the source code on the home page of Neon showed even more of the same human figures. Originally posted on Reddit, the videos have now been downloaded. In the YouTube video below, though, you can see them, and they look extremely lifelong. They actually look just like videos— not graphics created by computers.
And that’s the key question we have at this stage about Neon: how computer-generated are these avatars? Or are they based on high-fidelity video recording, which after the fact is animated? And, more importantly, how good are these avatars like humans when they speak and emot? A big claim associated with Neon is that it is possible to confuse these avatars for real humans— but that would be a huge leap forward over current technology.
Mistry made it clear in a recent interview that he believes “digital people” in the 2020s will be a big technology. “Movies are full of examples of getting AI into our culture,” Mistry said to LiveMint. “Officer K develops a relationship with his companion of AI hologram, Joi, in Blade Runner 2049. While films can disturb our sense of reality, it will be reality for’ virtual humans’ or’ digital humans.’ A digital human being could extend his role to become part of our daily lives: a virtual news anchor, a virtual receptionist, or even a film star generated by AI.
But we’ll have to wait and see if these standards can be met by Neon’s avatars. So far, we are mainly offered hype by the service. (See the red “ALIVE” text in the top right corner of the pictures tweeted by Mistry— it’s a bit hammy.) Whatever the case, Neon will be shown at CES in less than 48 hours, and we’ll be there to report what we see and hear.