Physical constraints on time and location still continue today as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for artists and creative expression, the metaverse (online virtual space) offers immersiveness and highly interactive digital experiences and is beginning to gain recognition as a “third place.” In addition, the digital space is seeing market growth as a new place for artists to thrive as shown by examples such as a focus on digital art using NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in the art world.
Expectations are high for the use of digital humans in various fields ranging from advertising and entertainment to customer service, with the recent focus on synthetic media produced with realistic sound and video and progress on AI technology research. We are already seeing more visual expression using XR technology and live events using virtual spaces and the spread of wearable devices and VR devices such as AR glasses, and their ever-accelerating development is leading to projections of even more content that will leverage XR technology and be entirely contained in the digital space.
Amid these developments, we have launched Digital Twin Label to offer entertainment agencies and celebrities services to produce official 3DCG models of prominent figures as alter egos. We aim to take on the digital twin production and casting of 500 prominent figures by 2023 and promote a variety of activities in the digital space.
The Digital Twin Label will collect motion data, voice data, and more to capture 3DCG data and physical characteristics for a prominent figure’s body in advance to produce a highly-detailed digital twin as the person’s alter ego. The CG likeness will then be cast in advertising and promotions and other projects. In addition to the original person’s activities in the physical space, we will expand the opportunities for their digital twin’s activities in the digital space and explore new ways to create value.
In order to help create a healthy market, CyberAgent is actively working to research ways to detect the abuse of deepfake technology. By producing and managing official 3DCG models in accordance with our guidelines, investing in technology to find fakes of prominent figures, and detecting and exposing fake data, we will strive toward the protection of prominent figures’ copyright and publicity rights, ensuring the credibility of various media and the appropriate societal implementation and development of technology.
Ai Tominaga, who works worldwide as a top model, will take part as the first digital twin. In addition to her work as an international top model, she engages in a wide range of activities such as acting, writing, and appearances on TV, radio, and events as a personality.
Her digital twin is based on a 3DCG scan of not just her face but her entire body, allowing uses ranging from expressive still shots to walking in virtual fashion shows and appearances in dynamic video scenes combined with her voice. We will take on the challenge of building a new brand in the metaverse.
To achieve all of this at a high level of quality, it will be important to have advanced visual AI technology that leverages cutting-edge machine learning methods, such as computer graphics technology that portrays faces and bodies in high definition, high-quality human capture technology using computer vision, voice signal processing technology to freely reproduce authentic-sounding voice, and lip sync technology to match the movements of visuals to voice.
The official 3DCG models for the Digital Twin Label are produced in conjunction with AI Lab, CyberAgent’s AI technology research organization, and CyberHuman Productions, Inc., a subsidiary with strengths in photogrammetry technology and CG production for digital humans, etc.
The key will be CyberAgent’s AI technology research and development, the Avatar Truck (a mobile 3DCG scanning station filled with top-class equipment to enable high-definition 3D facial scans anywhere), full body 3D scanning systems, motion capture systems to capture the characteristics of facial and body movements using cameras and sensors, and taking the enormous amount of human data collected from each and combining it with technology. CyberAgent will leverage its wide-ranging technical assets to strive for ever-higher levels of quality.
■ Moving forward
We expect the evolution of AI and CG technology to continue to enable an even wider range of activities in the digital space. We will pursue the possibilities of new value creation through people’s digital twins, take on the challenge of new expressions possible only in the digital space, and contribute to widening the range of corporate marketing activities.
*1 Metaverse: a virtual online space. Users can enter the virtual space as avatars, communicate with others, and engage in economic activities.
Digital Twin Label promotional video