This Holographic Digital Friend Will Live Inside Your Phone
SK Telecom created a digital companion that adds a human appearance, including facial expressions, to conversational AI
South Korean wireless communications company SK Telecom, along with VR developers Reality Reflection, has created a “digital human” whose hologram form lives inside its HoloBox. The cylindrical device allows a user to talk to the AI through a human-like avatar. Wendy is based on her real life counterpart, a K-pop singer from the group Red Velvet. However, according to Digital Trends, her 3D iteration isn’t as yet detailed as it could be—since rendering a photorealistic model of an actual person in 3D can take months, the level of detail required was outside the scope of the work for this particular project.
But the idea is to take AI assistants to a level beyond, say, Siri or Alexa. Wendy can listen, display emotions, understand and react using facial expressions. Her developers see her evolving into a companion that can go with you everywhere through AR on your smartphone (and in much greater detail than she’s currently displayed in the HoloBox.)
Even though this digital human started as a way to promote SK Telecom’s 5G technology, it has the potential to become so much more. To power Wendy in the HoloBox, users need 5G since it requires an amount of data that a standard 4G connection doesn’t allow.
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Katie Salen Tekinbas is a game designer, animator and educator. She is a professor in the DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media. Previously, she has taught at Parsons' New School for Design, the University of Texas at Austin, New York University and the Rhode Island School of Design.