PUBG creators to build AI-powered virtual humans

South Korean gaming company Krafton, known for games such as PUBG Mobile and Battlegrounds Mobile India, has jumped on to the Metaverse bandwagon with a virtual human modelling business, which will focus on building realistic virtual avatars that will be used inside games, eSports and as virtual influencers and singers.

Krafton said it will leverage hyperrealism character production technology to create digital avatars of humans and also tap into artificial intelligence (AI), text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and voice-to-face to improve their communication skills.

The virtual humans will also exhibit motion-captured vivid movements, pupil movements, a wide range of facial expressions, and hairs on the skin.

Last month, at a town hall, Krafton CEO CH Kim had said the company will actively leverage new technologies to offer unique experiences to gamers and creators.

“We are geared up for realising an interactive virtual world (Metaverse) in stages and will continue to introduce more advanced versions of virtual humans and content based on the belief in the infinite scalability of such technologies,” Shin Seok-jin, creative director at Krafton said in a statement.

Hyperrealism is an old art concept that has inspired artists to create sculptures and paintings that give the illusion of being real. In the present day, it has struck a chord with game developers and animators who now have access to the tools to make digital characters look like real people. Characters in games such as FIFA 22 almost look and move like their real-world counterparts.

Digital humans will be a vital cog in the Metaverse and will represent real humans in the virtual world. Initially, the options to customise virtual avatars will be limited to clothes and skins. However, as the adoption of Metaverse will grow and people start to spend more time inside them, demand for virtual avatars that look more like their real self is also expected to grow.

India is emerging as a new hub for animation and game development. After the pandemic, several overseas game studios had outsourced development work to India. The Union Budget for 2022-23 recognised the employment opportunities in animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC), with the government saying it will set up a task force to recommend ways to ramp up domestic capacity to serve global markets.

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