Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Samsung shows off Project NEON, realistic digital humanoid avatars

Samsung announces Project NEON, realistic digital humanoid avatars
At best, they’re Siri or Alexa with a CGI face, and it’s not clear if STAR Labs has created anything more convincing.

CES 2020 - Samsung


Samsung has finally unveiled it's Neon project at CES, led by STARLabs a subsidiary of Samsung. Neon is a digitally generated human that can emulate human behaviours. Samsung Technology and Advanced Research Labs aka STAR Labs described its technology as "computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a real human, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence. The Neon avatars are powered by two pieces of Neon proprietary technology. The first, called CORE R3, stands for "reality, realtime and responsive." That's what makes the Neons respond quickly and in a lifelike manner. The second is called SPECTRA, which is responsible for intelligence, learning, emotions and memory.

But the company was careful to point out that they were fictitious, prepared in advance for illustrative purposes only. It is therefore impossible to verify the effectiveness of Core R3, as The Verge cautiously pointed out.


Samsung Core R3

Neon could be a friend?

The software uses a mix of images of real human beings to create a virtual person and produces new expressions, movements and dialogues in several languages. There have been growing concerns of social media full of deep fake, but Neon claims to go much further than that. The company claims to be able to create virtual characters capable of showing emotion and intelligence on its official website.

What can Neon do?

They can interact with real humans and respond to request with very little latency. Neon would thus no longer be a simple assistant but a 'real friend'. This use case of this kind of technology is enormous: welcoming people in shops and public places and maybe replacing TV news presenter or actors in movies. There haven't been any real demonstrations yet, but the first videos are impressive. It is rather frightening that some people would make them for misinformation.

In the near future, one will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON as a service representative, a financial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge. Over time, NEONs will work as TV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors; or they can simply be companions and friends.

Would you enjoy watching a film with synthetic actors? According to STAR Labs, this could be a reality in the future. At this point there are more questions than answers, Project Neon plans to release a beta project for a small number of partners by the end of 2020 so we expect to hear more about Neon at least before the year ends.

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