SK-II & Soul Machines™ Announce YUMI: The World’s First Autonomously Animated Digital Influencer

YUMI will be the first digital face of SK-II, P&G’s global prestige skincare brand

CANNES, FRANCE — June, 17, 2019 – SK-II, global prestige skincare brand, announced today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that it will be partnering with Soul Machines™, ground-breaking company re-imagining how humans connect with machines, to create the world’s first autonomously animated digital influencer: YUMI.

As SK-II’s first digital brand face, YUMI is an integral part of SK-II’s ongoing transformation journey to connect with a new generation of consumers who are yearning for more meaningful experiences with the brands they know and trust. Using Google Dialogflow as its natural language platform, YUMI is capable of interacting as a human would and will not only provide beauty advice but also help consumers better understand their skin and guide them on their journey to skin transformation with PITERA™ Essence.

YUMI was introduced to the world by Soul Machines co-founders, Mark Sagar and Greg Cross at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

“We are thrilled to work with innovative companies and brands like Procter & Gamble and SK-II, who are embracing technology to humanize brands at scale,” said Greg Cross, co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Soul Machines. “YUMI will become a trusted resource to those who interact with her. Customers will immediately notice how easy the Soul Machines digital humans are to converse with and relate to once they spend time interacting with YUMI.”

“YUMI is more than a digital influencer. She is a digital human capable of interacting and engaging in ways technology hasn’t been able to do until now,” said Sandeep Seth, Chief Executive Officer, Global SK-II. “YUMI personifies our goal to combine technology and creativity to benefit customers. She provides the warmth and connection of human touch in the form of a digital experience to make the overall skincare experience at home and in store more enjoyable and compelling. We’re looking forward to customers being able to turn to her for skincare and beauty questions at any time of the day or night.”

ABOUT SK-II

For more than 38 years, SK-II has touched the lives of millions of women around the world through skin and life transformation. The fascinating story behind SK-II began with a quest to understand why elderly sake brewers had wrinkled faces, but extraordinarily soft and youthful-looking hands. These hands were in constant contact with the sake fermentation process. It took years of research for scientists to isolate the miracle ingredient Pitera™, a naturally-derived liquid from the yeast fermentation process. Since then, SK-II with Pitera™ has become a special secret shared by celebrities all over the world such as Chloe Grace Moretz, Behati Prinsloo Levine, Tangwei, Ni Ni, Chun Xia, Haruka Ayase and Kasumi Arimura and Naomi Watanabe. For the latest news and in-depth information, please visit http://www.sk-ii.com .

ABOUT SOUL MACHINES™

Soul Machines™ is a ground-breaking, high-tech company of AI researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, artists, and innovative thinkers, re-imagining how we connect with machines. The company brings technology to life by creating incredibly lifelike, emotionally responsive, artificial humans with personality and character that allow machines to talk to us face-to-face. Their vision is to humanize artificial intelligence to better humanity. Soul Machines™ is now deploying the world’s first digital humans with some of the biggest corporate brands in the world in Banking and Finance, Software and Technology, Automotive, Healthcare, Energy, and Education industries. For more about Soul Machines™, visit www.soulmachines.com.

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For more information, please contact

Shuqi Fu, Senior Brand Communications Manager, SK-II
fu.s.2@pg.com
O: 81286610

Alyssa Ross, Soul Machines
media@soulmachines.com
Phone: +17322219036

Humanizing Brands

Given Brands are made by humans, how have so many become so, well, inhuman?

Many of today’s brand challenges stem from not being human enough resulting in a chasm between the brand and the consumer. Turns out that the solution to ending what are highly robotic brand responses and interactions is a robot.

Efforts to achieve this typically require massive investments in human capital – and while this will remain the ultimate solution, it hinders brand engagement and comes with a raft of issues such as cost, consistency of service and experience, and time.

Digital has long been touted as the solution to these issues – as providing an infinitely scalable way for brands to reach and touch more consumers. In the purchase funnel that might be partially the case – but what about before and after? How do brands address the complex task of engaging and advising the consumer across their entire journey?

Early advances to address this have resulted in a raft of chat-bots, animated digital puppets and “hot cartoons”. These have proven to be little more than PR stunts. They attract eyeballs but don’t engage to deliver any value to them. Operating to rote scripts and responses, consumers have been rewarded with little more than sizzle without the steak.

That’s about to change.

By fusing advanced general intelligence – a type of AI – with a hyper-realistic animation engine, brands can now create human experiences, quickly and at scale. And this will advance brands into a new world of artificial general intelligence. AGI is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. That means, the new face of a brand – a Digital Human – can operate autonomously and in human ways.

YUMI, unveiled today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity represents the world’s first autonomously animated Digital Influencer. Developed by Soul Machines and P&G’s SK-II, a global prestige skincare brand, YUMI marks the birth of the first fully autonomous digital influencer capable of interacting as a human would but with the control brands need and expect. The technology advances are significant, as are the implications for marketers:

The Rise of Digital Influencers & Celebrities

YUMI will be the first of thousands of new Digital Influencers – some unique, some founded on actual Digital Celebrities – that express a personality unique to them and the brand. Unlike current, information and interaction poor Digital Puppets, their integration with information and AI will enable them to present meaningful information, in a human way, contextualized to the consumer rather than a pre-programmed script. Digital Humans go beyond current PR Stunts with limited ability to interact and engage. They can evolve over time, humanizing the brand across multiple campaigns, products and services.

Crossing the AI Chasm

Today most marketers’ efforts with AI are confined to mining data that is then used to tailor offers and creative to be delivered in the right place and the right time. Digital Humans represent a new opportunity to fuse this data with customer interactions in real-time. Whether you are a Digital Agency, a Data Agency or Creative Agency, the Digital Human becomes the means to converse at scale.

New Creative Solutions

Current Digital Puppets are created through traditional animation techniques that cost as much as the time they take to create. Higher quality equates to higher cost. Solving this problem through an advanced CGI studio enables Digital Humans to be created with, until now, unseen quality, in days.

A New Interface

Digital Humans aren’t just a new face for brands, they are a new interface for any digital environment. Rather than clicking, scrolling, or searching we chat with a Digital Human who does the work for us. Interactions are simplified and humanized.

Digital Humans, like YUMI, humanize the brand by being human. They are imperfect but perfect. They possess knowledge. They respond to you based on emotion and intelligence. They listen, engage and react – autonomously and at scale. They are serious and funny. Importantly, they break from scripts and engage in conversation – and through this conversation, they do the work of presenting relevant information.

But more than anything, the new wave of Digital Humans will humanize brands by thinking and communicating like a human. And in the process, reinvent customer and brand experience.

The World’s First Autonomously Animated Digital Influencer

Today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity we announced with P&G’s SK-II, a global prestige skincare brand, the world’s first autonomously animated Digital Influencer: YUMI.

YUMI marks the birth of the first fully autonomous digital influencer capable of interacting as a human would but with the control brands need and expect.

YUMI is an integral part of SK-II’s ongoing transformation journey to connect with a new generation of consumers who are yearning for more meaningful experiences with the brands they know and trust. YUMI will not only provide beauty advice but also help consumers better understand their skin and selecting SK-II products that are suitable for them.

Much has been written about Digital Influencers but this is very different and a result of our more than eight-year investment in hard science and development that has resulted in a number of patents and innovations. One of our goals is to contribute to the progression of artificial general intelligence (AGI) using the human as a model system, enhancing human-machine collaboration.

The difference between YUMI and what are being touted as digital influencers is significant:

  1. Autonomy: YUMI can operate at scale, autonomously of human intervention. She will express emotions and information through what is effectively a Digital Brain™. Harnessing advanced artificial intelligence (AI) she can respond and interact just as a human would.
  2. Human: Through our Digital DNA™ Studio she has been developed to be life-like but with a unique personality. Unlike current approaches which depend on hand-tooling and significant animation, YUMI was built rapidly and can change dynamically to reflect the unique personality of the brand. We’ve learnt through our research that creating a human experience has to couple hyper-real imagery with hyper-real expressions, reactions and conversation. To look good isn’t enough – the experience has to be relatable and feel great as well. The research we’ve seen elsewhere reinforces this point: “The photorealistic avatar was rated more trustworthy, and people had more affinity with it and preferred it over the cartoon agent… a cartoon character caused extra cognitive load which hindered learning particularly for male participants, compared to the realistic character” (Yuan, Dennis, & Riemer, 2019)
  3. Responsive: Current digital puppets, “hot cartoons” and bots are designed to follow pre-scripted animation paths and fixed in the way they are designed. YUMI will magically adapt and respond based on the consumer in front of her.
  4. Integrated: The current generation of digital influencers deliver little utility to consumers. By integrating YUMI with information she can deliver what consumers are looking for – help, advise, tips and tricks – all based on what they need.
  5. AI-powered: Until now Digital Influencers have animated scripts. The point of YUMI is she is animated because of AI – constantly learning and improving on her own.

YUMI is a Digital Influencer with a difference. She engages and responds as a human would. She won’t know everything but will know what to do when she doesn’t. She represents a new way for brands to be more human in engaging humans in a highly scalable way.

YUMI is more than a digital influencer, she is a digital human capable of interacting and engaging in ways technology hasn’t been able to do until now,” said Sandeep Seth, Chief Executive Officer, Global SK-II. YUMI personifies our goal to combine technology and creativity to benefit customers. She provides the warmth and connection of human touch in the form of a digital experience to make the overall skincare experience at home and in store more enjoyable and compelling. SK-II is the perfect brand to introduce YUMI to and we’re looking forward to customers being able to turn to her for skincare and beauty questions at any time of the day or night.”

That is what Brands and Consumers are demanding.