As if there weren’t enough people already trying to become multi-platform stars, soon they’ll all have to compete with ANA, a hyper-realistic virtual human from Krafton.
The company, which also makes the popular PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds battle royale game unveiled (opens in new tab) a pair of images of ANA on Wednesday. The stills feature only her head – or really just her face – but depict a pink-haired and somewhat playful person who looks as if she’s deeply interested in the next thing you have to say.
Eventually, we’ll see more of ANA, though. Krafton is promising that its virtual human will, as Krafton Head of the Creative Center Josh Seokjin Shin explained in a press release, “release an original music track and expand its scope of activity as an influencer into various areas across entertainment and esports.”
Based on the images, ANA does look real-ish. There are still issues around the teeth, too-perfect skin, and the plasticky-looking fingers lightly touching her face. Even so, the effect is, thanks to the inclusion of imperfections like faint pores, wrinkles, and tiny hairs on the skin, quite striking.
Even without a full-body image or motion video, there’s reason to believe that ANA could end up being something special. When Krafton initially unveiled its hyperrealistic technology in February, which uses face-rigging technology for subtle and vivid expressions, pupil movements, and natural joint movement, it also released a PUBG cinematic video (opens in new tab) demonstrating the current state of its virtual human technology.
In the video, a group of PUBG competitors is battling a masked foe. Intermixed with the uncanny valley moments are a few scenes that come razer-close to true realism. One of the characters, a woman who gets shot in the arm, looks like a clear ANA ancestor.
In addition to all the face, skin, and body technology, Krafton says it’s employing deep learning to build an AI voice that will allow ANA to “act and sing just like a real human.”
We need this why?
We live in a world of fakery. Whether it’s actors wearing other people’s faces to recreate younger versions of the source actors (see Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker (opens in new tab)), Deep Fakers wearing other actor’s faces (opens in new tab)or bots that think they’re human, it’s hard to trust anything you see, hear or read.
Artificial humans, even artificial influencers, have been around for years. But few would mistake Miquela, for instance, for a real human. Based on what Krafton is promising here, though, we soon won’t know if the TikToker telling us about the perfect cleanse or YouTuber singing an original song are flesh and blood or ones and zeros.
We’ll happily welcome ANA when she’s ready to emerge on the digital scene, but perhaps she can stick to playing inside PUBG and not try eliminating one of the contestants on The Voice.