Are Virtual Humans the Next Evolution of Chatbots & Voice Assistants?

We sit down with Joe Murphy, who leads US business development for DeepBrain AI, to explore the business potential of virtual humans, examine the technologies that enable them…

They go by many names, but AI-generated virtual agents that appear to talk, move and gesture like real people appear poised to take off in coming years. Recent fundraising milestones indicate that this space is heating up and investors see significant applications for this technology across both the real world and the emerging VR and AR landscape.

To dive deeper into this space, I recently sat down with Joe Murphy, who leads US business development for DeepBrainAI, to explore the business potential of virtual humans, examine the technologies that enable them, and the many challenges ahead as this approach to human-machine interaction matures and scales.

 

1. Joe, thanks for your time. First, can you help orient us as to what an “AI human” is, and what are some killer use cases? 

Hi Eric, thanks for the opportunity to share. For this conversation, I will use the terms, “AI Human, Virtual Human, and Digital Twin” interchangeably. In general, they are variations on a common theme: a digital representation of a person that looks, sounds, and acts as the actual person.

On the topic of “killer use cases,” I believe that AI Humans represent the logical evolution of virtual assistants and chatbots. So, augmenting any chatbot with an AI Human is the killer use case. What I mean is that most existing and future chatbot use cases can be enhanced with a Virtual Human. For example, why when speaking to Alexa or Siri, why do I receive a disembodied voice response from a black box? This is then followed by some awkward conversational turn-taking which is haphazardly guided by flashing lights and pulsing icons.

Previous technical limitations could create a case study for the uncanny valley and the disembodied voice assistant made sense. More recently, video synthesis technology has progressed to the point where Virtual Humans can be indistinguishable from actual humans. So, we are no longer constrained to having a conversation with a faceless black box.

Not to sound overly enthusiastic, but I compare the upcoming Virtual Human chatbot evolution to several other technology shifts, where the video was preferred and overtook the audio-only solution.

 

Entertainment: Radio → TV

Communication: Phone Call → FaceTime Call

Business: Conference Bridge → Zoom Meeting

 

Each of the paradigms above was noticeably improved with the addition of video. Adding human-centric video almost always creates a more enjoyable and natural interaction. So, we fully expect that adding AI Humans to chatbots will follow this same pattern of acceptance and adoption.

 

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