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Virtual livestreamers a new trend

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LI MIN / CHINA DAILY

Virtual figures are characters developed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), which are very similar to humans, but utilize advanced animation techniques. Virtual idols, teachers, customer assistants and other characters are becoming more and more part of reality.

The term virtual person is commonly used by graphic designers who model virtual human bodies, or computer scientists who describe chatbots with a graphic representation of a three-dimensional human body. The term is also used by researchers in the field of human-human and human-robot interactions in intelligent virtual agents.

Virtual people are injecting new vitality into industries such as e-commerce, media, finance, education, tourism, and manufacturing, along with the development of technologies such as metaverse, virtual expansion space, virtual reality, AI, 5G, and image compositing. increase. And digital twins.

Basically, virtual characters can be divided into two categories. Computer-generated animated images created without real reference material, such as Douyin’s virtual beauty blogger Liu Yexi, TikTok’s base video-sharing social network, and other virtual influencers; real in fictional settings A virtual character that plays the role of a character.

The development of advanced technologies such as 3D has improved the facial expressions of characters in the game. Virtual live streamers are also popular on online platforms because they fit into the imagination of many netizens and promote their products through online concerts, short videos, and other activities, just like celebrities hired in commercials. Virtual live streamers can also process the behavior of thousands, if not millions, of consumers and convert them directly into data.

The virtual live streamer can perform livestreaming independently or with the help of a real assistant who needs to display the product in front of the camera. Virtual influencers can also co-sponsor campaigns with human anchors or briefly appear as guests to showcase intellectual property-related products.

With these developments, some net users are wondering if virtual live streamers will eventually replace human live streamers.

In fact, both virtual live streamers and real live streamers have their strengths and weaknesses.

The obvious advantage of virtual live streamers is that they can change styles frequently, providing consumers with a fresh experience. Also, unlike real people, they don’t quit their jobs or report illnesses, and they witness multiple sites 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to reduce the stress of co-hosting humans and make mistakes. , Do not make human mistakes.

However, it is impossible for all businesses to use virtual people because of the enormous cost. To create a regular virtual character, a company needs to spend millions of yuan and more than three months.

In addition, virtual live streamers can mimic the behavior of real people, but facial expressions and body movements are usually unnatural. They can’t interact with real people like real-life celebrities, and given their mechanical reaction, they can’t adapt to fast-paced, highly interactive live streams.

Because of the perfect face, users expect a lot from virtual live streamers. However, customers may not be able to trust the recommended product due to the high degree of perfection of the robot. Therefore, the challenge for virtual character developers is to balance perfection and relevance.

Fortunately, the virtual livestreaming industry chain is starting to take shape in China, with content suppliers located upstream, created by virtual character creators and technology supporters, users and professionals such as computer animation and extended reality companies. Content platform, multi-downstream channel network.

Sure, figure creators are interested in ways to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve content incubation and commercialization capabilities, but the virtual livestreaming industry is evolving and growing rapidly. .. According to an industry report released by Qbit-AI, an industry service platform focused on AI and cutting-edge technology, the total size of the virtual people’s market in the country will reach 270 billion yuan ($ 40.47 billion) by 2030. It is predicted that.

According to the report, revenues from virtual people with specific characteristics, including virtual celebrities, could reach 175 billion yuan by 2030, and revenues from service-oriented virtual humans could exceed 95 billion yuan. There is sex. And human live streamers may benefit from it rather than being replaced by virtual counterparts that may start livestreaming in the Metaverse in the future.

Still, China’s virtual livestreaming industry is still in its infancy, with some bottlenecks that hinder large applications of digital avatars. The consumer market is thriving, but the technology is relatively weak and difficult to turn into a profitable business.

Therefore, every part of the industry chain needs to work properly, and digital character creators need to eliminate technology bottlenecks and reduce costs. Operations departments, on the other hand, need to optimize their business models under a closed-loop system to facilitate the rapid development of the department. Inject new momentum into the economy.

The author is a senior engineer at the Institute for Informatization and Industrialization of the China Information and Communication Technology Academy. The views do not necessarily reflect the views of China Daily.

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