Samsung unveils AI-powered digital avatar

  • ASEAN+
  • Tuesday, 07 Jan 2020

Sebastian Seung, executive vice president and chief research scientist of Samsung Research, speaking during a press event at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Every year during the second week of January nearly 200,000 people gather in Las Vegas for the tech industry's most-maligned, yet well-attended event: the consumer electronics show. - Bloomberg

LAS VEGAS/SINGAPORE: A Samsung lab on Tuesday (Jan 7) unveiled a digital avatar it described as an AI-powered "artificial human," claiming it is able to "converse and sympathise" like real people.

The announcement at the opening of the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas touted a new kind of artificial intelligence called NEON, produced by the independent Samsung unit Star Labs.

But some industry experts questioned the lack of detail provided by Samsung on the underlying technology.

"As far as we can tell, there's no mystery here at all. NEON is just digital avatars - computer-animated human likenesses about as deserving of the 'artificial human' moniker as Siri," said the specialised tech website, The Verge.

"Don't worry about any 'AI android uprising' - these aren't the artificial humans you're looking for," it added.

According to the California-based unit of the South Korean giant, the technology allows for the creation of customized digital beings that can appear on displays or video games and could be designed to be "TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors" or even "companions and friends."

"NEONs will be our friends, collaborators and companions, continually learning, evolving and forming memories from their interactions," said Pranav Mistry, chief executive of the lab.

The NEON creators said the new virtual humans are the product of advances in technologies including neural networks and computational reality.

According to Star Labs, NEON is inspired "by the rhythmic complexities of nature and extensively trained with how humans look, behave and interact."

The avatars "create life-like reality that is beyond normal perception to distinguish, with latency of less than a few milliseconds."

While digital avatars have long been able to be programmed for specific tasks such as role players in games, NEON goes further by enabling interactions that can incorporate human emotion.

Although the artificial humans may borrow features from real people,"each NEON has his or her own unique personality and can show new expressions, movements, and dialogs," the company said.

According to Samsung and Star Labs, NEON offers avatars with lifelike reality "that is beyond normal perception to distinguish."

The company envisions commercial opportunities to create avatars to be service representatives, financial advisors, healthcare providers or concierges. - AFP

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Samsung , AI , Neon , CES , Handphones


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