NEON: The Virtual Human

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    21st Jan, 2020

Context

NEON was one of the most-discussed new concepts at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in 2020.

About

  • NEONs, being called the world’s first artificial humans, have been created by Samsung’s Star Labs headed by Pranav Mistry, an India - born scientist.
  • NEONs are computationally created virtual humans — the word derives from NEO (new) + humaN.
  • For now the virtual humans can show emotions when manually controlled by their creators. But the idea is for NEONs to become intelligent enough to be fully autonomous, showing emotions, learning skills, creating memories, and being intelligent on their own.
  • A virtual human is a Computer Generated (CG) human simulation with artificial intelligence. A virtual human can have a CG human body, and CG voice and computer empowered senses. Virtual humans can be applied in various domains such as education, marketing, branding, training & sales.
  • Star Labs started work on NEONs by trying to replicate a friend. Initially, the models were trained on his face, and there were significant errors. But then, they started getting better, almost indistinguishable from the original.

How does it work?

There are two core technologies behind his virtual humans.

  • First, there is the proprietary CORE R3 technology that drives the “reality, real time and responsiveness” behind NEONs.
  • It is the front-end reality engine that is able to give you that real expression.
  • The company claims CORE R3 “leapfrogs in the domains of Behavioral Neural Networks, Evolutionary Generative Intelligence and Computational Reality”, and is “extensively trained” on how humans look, behave and interact.
  • But in the end, it is like a rendition engine, converting the mathematical models to look like actual humans.
  • The next stage will be SPECTRA, which will complement CORE R3 with the “spectrum of intelligence, learning, emotions and memory”.
  • But SPECTRA is still in development, and is not expected before NEONWORLD 2020 later this year.

How could NEONs be used?

  • NEONs are the interface for technologies and services.
  • They could answer queries at a bank, welcome you at a restaurant, or read out the breaking news on television at an unearthly hour.
  • This form of virtual assistance would be more effective, for example, while teaching languages, as NEONs will be capable of understanding and sympathizing.

How are they different from Virtual Assistants?

  • Virtual Assistants now learn from all the data they are plugged into. NEONs will be limited to what they know and learn.
  • Their leaning could potentially be limited to the person they are catering to, and maybe her friends — but not the entire Internet.
  • They will not be an interface for you to request a song, rather they will be a friend to speak to and share experiences with.
  • Currently, its developer doesn’t want NEONs to have collective memory, or to share data among themselves.
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