Photo courtesy of Zero Pointing
zero, a virtual influencer and “cyborg” with spiky red hair, appeared at SXSW today via Zoom. The animated character lives “in a bunker” in the “Nexus” universe – a storytelling universe created by Offbeat Media Group.
“Hello, how are you today. My name is Zero and I’m so happy to be here with you,” Zero said in a robotic sounding voice. “I heard I was speaking to a Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban, I have a question for you.”
Zero suddenly switched voices and it became clear that he was actually being portrayed by a live voice actor: “How did you like my fake AI voice? Was that pretty good?”
Zero is run by a studio team based in Atlanta. It appears that at live events he speaks through a voice actor and his movements and facial expressions are captured by someone wearing a motion detector. Animated videos of Zero are then rendered in real-time for a live audience.
Today at SXSW, Offbeat co-founders Shep Ogden and Christopher Travers talked about it, along with investor Mark Cuban how zero worksand shared their predictions for the future of virtual influencers.
“Zero, our virtual human who will join the panel today, is produced in real time. Nothing was recorded today and Zero will interact with us like a normal human influencer would through the video call,” Ogden told the Daily Dot ahead of the panel.
Ogden, Travers and Cuban said that Zero’s storyline in its virtual world could ultimately be determined jointly by NFT holders. You’ve heard of NFTs or trackable internet-centric products like images… SXSW 2022 is full of tech sectors figuring out what to do with them as they go mainstream.
“Where we can use NFTs is that having the owners of the NFTs—however they received them or however they dropped them—allows us to affect the storylines associated with the virtual human . That was really cool for me,” Cuban said at the panel.
Ogden discussed how buying an NFT could become a bet on the success of a virtual influencer.
“If this thing starts to become a celebrity and you’re one of the first people to make a bet, that NFT has great value,” Ogden explained on the panel.
Odgen told the Daily Dot about human influencers’ place in this virtual reality: “I think human influencers will engage with non-human influencers the same way they would engage with another human. You can create content together and interact via social media. They will also create their own non-human influencers to expand their online presence.”
However, the panel also expressed excitement about the potential for non-human influencers to become fully autonomous in the future.
Travers argued that while the technology is far from mature, virtual influencers could eventually be controlled by artificial intelligence. AI could potentially learn to respond to what humans say with specific facial expressions, body movements, and voice inflections.
Cuban agreed, “You don’t need anyone behind the curtain for that. The mannerisms will be intuitive to what is being said. Nobody has made this connection with virtual people before. But it will.”
He continued, “As technology advances, every step in technology is being replaced, from humans to the most advanced technology, most of which is based on AI and computer vision. That is the promise and the direction. To be able to interact like that is amazing, but you have to know where we’re going.”
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*Initial publication: March 12, 2022 at 6:51 p.m. CST
Grace Stanley is a reporter with tips and tricks for creatives and influencers. You were previously the social media manager for Nautilus Magazine and attended the University of Texas at Austin.
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/zero-virtual-character-sxsw/ The virtual character Zero appeared