At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), iHeartMedia tapped Gen Z pop star Billie Eilish to entertain viewers during a digital performance. LG, on the other, designed a virtual influencer—DJ and songwriter Reah Keem—to announce two of its new products.
Keem, “a virtual musician,” appeared during LG’s live streamed CES keynote to showcase the company’s new disinfecting robots for high-traffic areas, CLOi UV-C Robots, in addition to the LG Gram Laptop. In discussing the features and benefits of the products, Keem said:
“Being a musician, you know, traveling is a big part of my life, and inspiration, which like so many of you I desperately want back.”
The virtual influencer posted a clip from the CES session to her Instagram, where she already has nearly 7,000 followers. The video has garnered 4,151 views and 351 likes so far. Though she isn’t a real person, Keem recently did another very human thing: posed for a fashion editorial in Dazed Korea back in July, during which she disclosed to her followers that she was a 22-year-old from Korea, based in Seoul.
LG’s decision to promote its products through a virtual influencer is fitting for the digital CES this year and underscores the slow but steady rise of realistic virtual brand ambassadors, which according to HypeAuditor have three times more engagement rate than real influencers.
Media studio Brud hopped on the trend as early as 2016, when it birthed a computer-generated influencer named Lil Miquela, a “singer” who currently has 2.9 million followers on Instagram.
On the appeal of virtual influencers, Doug Roble, the senior director of software R&D at Digital Domain said:
“With virtual influencers, nearly all of them are obviously and deliberately digital creations. How do they sell a “lifestyle?” Perhaps it’s because they are fake that the viewer is more able to project themselves on them. Or maybe it’s because they are often funny, outrageous or novel and the lifestyle promotion is replaced with simply getting the viewer to look.”
Video games have started to digitize real-life influencers, too. In Cyberpunk 2077, a digital Keanu Reeves appears as Johnny Silverhand, a character guiding players through their mission. The game used motion capture to gather a library of movement of his interpretation of the character, the actor told NPR.
With today’s technology, Roble says it’s becoming easier to create “photorealistic characters that work in any environment.” These new developments are also enabling players to use their face for one of their video game characters. Capturing the uncanny detail of these high-quality humans is the hardest part.
“. . .and it’s why we’ve turned to machine learning and the most advanced graphics cards. Machine learning lets us accelerate the processes that can create, move and render the detail. The computational power in the GPUs lets us execute the staggering number of computations needed to create a photorealistic human. All in the space of 33 milliseconds.”
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