PRESS: 5G will help bring digital humans to life

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Article by Chris Ashraf as featured on Verizon News | March 11, 2019

Imagine walking into a hotel and being greeted by a virtual assistant in a kiosk who can answer all of your questions. Now imagine that virtual assistant could react to what you say, the tone you say it in and your body language. Sensing the frustration in your voice that the king room you reserved will not be ready for a couple of hours and overhearing you talk with your spouse about the long, uncomfortable flight, the virtual assistant offers to store your bags and directs you to the hotel lounge where the first round of drinks has been comped.

Does this sound like science fiction? 5G is working to help make this type of interaction a lot more real and a lot less make believe.

At the Verizon 5G Lab in New York City, one of five Verizon 5G Labs located throughout the U.S., we’re working with start-ups to test out how 5G can enhance existing technologies and create totally new experiences.

We recently showed off some new consumer and business 5G use cases including one from Soul Machines, a company that is putting a face on artificial intelligence (AI) by creating virtual humans who can learn and react in real-time. These life-like, emotionally responsive digital humans have personality and character and can literally talk face-to-face and respond to vocal and facial expressions. They have a digital brain that triggers their facial expressions and responses so if a person shows frustration, they read their emotional state and react with empathy.

To create a more humanized, accessible and contextual user experience, a 5G connection is critical to provide the high speed and low latency required to process the data so that the AI assistant can interpret emotions and respond with almost no delay. Think of the millions of different data points humans take in during the course of a conversation – tone, verbal cues, non-verbal cues, etc. Identifying, processing and reacting to each of these stimuli is a complex process. Our brain does this naturally and in a matter of milliseconds. For a virtual person to do this, it requires that same processing bandwidth and speed. Enter 5G.

Soul Machines can make realistic interactive creatures, cartoon characters or digital assistants based on real people. Lia, the digital human the company showed off at the Verizon 5G lab, is based on New Zealand actress, Shushila Takao.

The technology is currently used in the banking and auto industries and the idea is to create digital humans used in industries ranging from retail to entertainment to healthcare. The future may hold virtual versions of your favorite celebrities who can chat with you online and digital healthcare professionals who can diagnose your ailments. Hold on to your hats, 5G is about to make these experiences a reality.

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