The digital human market is still in its early stages of development, but it is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. The market is being driven by the increasing demand for realistic and interactive digital humans across a wide range of industries. The global digital human market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 46.4% from 2022 to 2030, reaching a value of $527.58 billion by 2030.
With the raging buzz around chatbots, people from all sectors are curious to know what the future of human communication looks like. Our heavy dependence on the internet foretells a digital future for human connections. The use of chatbots and virtual assistants is not new, but it feels unnatural. It does not replicate the feeling of speaking with a human.
Digital Humans fill this space by providing an engaging means of communication: the human look that chatbots and virtual assistants lack. They have the communicating capability of a chatbot with an added human touch.
What are Digital Humans?
Digital humans are 3D virtual creations that resemble people identically and can mimic their behaviors, including their motions, facial expressions, and conversational speech patterns. The existence of a real person with the same name, physical description, and bodily traits may or may not be true for digital beings, so it is important to keep this in mind. Like chatbots or voice bots that we are accustomed to today, they are autonomous 3-dimensional objects that exist in virtual worlds.
How does a Digital Human work?
Digital humans are characterized by their physical appearance. The ability to look like humans, mimic body language, and facial expressions, and understand nonverbal nuances adds to their charm. Thus, the technologies used to create them must account for both their likeness and their capacity for precise language comprehension and application.
It can be challenging to create a digital person. The creation of a digital person consists of three primary parts: generation, animation, and intelligence, each requiring a unique mix of art and technology.
Teams must create 3D models, textures, shaders, a skeletal rig, and skin deformation in order to build digital humans. Artists must consider the physical components of the digital human, including the body, face, hair, and clothing, to create animation and movement. To get the proper motion for these pieces, deformation, and simulation are typically combined. As of present, there are primarily 2 ways to generate realistic performance: either manually animate or collect motion data using different performance capture systems. It frequently combines the two together. Recently, it has become more common to generate or synthesize animation using artificial intelligence (AI).
Finally, artists must give digital humans intelligence, which they can do through two-way communication. An artificial person may converse with actual people using technologies such as Human Language Processing and Natural Speech (Riva, Ensemble AI, Replica). Both the actual world and the virtual world will be visible to them. They can traverse their environment by recognizing the surroundings and objects in it. Also, they will be able to see the users speaking to them, allowing them to look and answer appropriately.
Digital humans are created using a wide range of technology, including 3D modeling and animation tools. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Artificial Neural Networks are examples of the technologies used to "give life to" digital persons. The key technologies that constitute digital humans are as follows:
3D scanning as the foundation for 3D modeling
3D modeling to generate a 3D model of a person
Natural language processing to comprehend voice commands
Natural language generation to create responses
Artificial intelligence to analyze input and learn from repeated patterns
The visual and character qualities of digital human creation are supported by constantly evolving technology. Driving factors include the development of 3D scanning and visual capture tools, new, incredibly lifelike construction platforms, motion creation software, among other things.
Types of Digital Humans
People have been experimenting and exploring various methods to represent themselves as the world gets more digital and even virtual.
1. Parallel Personalities
One of the most common forms of digital humans; is an advanced form of a game avatar. It has been popularized by the rise of Fortnite and Roblox in the gaming community. These Parallel Personalities are now also present outside of video games. Twitch live streamers like MelodyProjekt and CodeMiko have now carved out their identity as virtual people. They constructed their characters using Unreal Engine, a motion capture suit from Xsens, motion capture gloves from Manus VR, and a facial tracking helmet from MOCAP Design.
2. Deep Fakes
Walking the thin line between potential privacy violations and funny are deep fakes. They are a type of digital double that are difficult to differentiate from the original human. Humans are already troubled by false information and fake news, which makes us distrust everything we see. And certainly, this technology harbors danger. Consider the latest Deep Fake movies about Presidents Zelensky and Putin that were circulated to perplex individuals on both sides of the Ukraine conflict. This was the first for deep fake use in military conflicts.
But there are also unique opportunities, as politician Yoon Suk-Yeol of South Korea can attest. He can talk to several individuals at once by using his deep false digital double. It responds to queries posed by the audience. Technically, Yoon's campaign staff is responding to the inquiries. Nonetheless, the audience feels as though they are interacting with the political candidate. Millions of people visited the avatar in just a few weeks.
2Pac had a live performance at Coachella through a hologram. At her 40th birthday party, Kim Kardashian also received a special message from her late father through this technology. This offers fresh approaches to mourning the loss of loved ones.
4. Digital Twins
We can create a digital reproduction of the equipment, personnel, procedures, and systems used by enterprises thanks to technology. A hospital can, for instance, assess operational plans, capacity, personnel, and care models with a digital twin. A person's human body will also be modeled using digital twins to enhance diagnosis, medical care, treatment, and other health interventions. It will help in predictive forecasting and improve the precision of medical interventions.
Digital Doubles are yet another depiction of actual people in a digital setting. Virtual Humans, on the other hand, are distinct, human-like individuals who solely exist in a virtual setting.
1. Virtual Assistants
Business owners or service providers regularly deal with the conflict between their clients' desires for a rapid response and their preference for human interaction to obtain that response. Unfortunately, no business rationale can ever give a case in support of the investment for this. Virtual assistants help resolve this dilemma. Conversational bots are increasingly common today. The New Zealand police’s conversational bot, Ella, maintains daily interactions with citizens.
2. Virtual Influencers
The term "virtual influencers" or "CGI influencers" refers to computer-generated fictitious "people" with the likenesses, traits, and dispositions of real people. The concept arose with the introduction of Lil Miquela, the world’s first virtual influencer, in 2019.
Applications Of Digital Humans
Numerous industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, customer service, and many more, have a wide range of options available thanks to digital humans. They were initially widely used as brand spokespeople after becoming influencers. Today, digital persons may be developed to do a wide range of interactive tasks, including basic consulting, customer service, and bot-like interactions. They can be used in various interactions, such as team training and collaboration sessions with pre-programmed facilitators, or as part of storytelling and creative process exercises.
1. Entertainment and the Media
Digital humans have long been used in media and entertainment. The main way that digital humans contribute to this sector of the economy is through their performance in realism. With the introduction of numerous technologies, consumers are now able to distinguish between phony and real behavior. By providing computer-generated characters in movies and video games with a human touch rather than robotic movement, digital humans enhance their performance.
Compound machinery and robot use are integral to manufacturing. The usage of this sophisticated equipment inherently poses a danger to occupational health, with the riskier the workplace environment the heavier the machine. Data has been utilized to create situations over time that might provide manufacturing industries with information on risk and other possibilities. Manufacturing businesses can run several simulations, including ones that involve dangerous situations, and get results that are just as precise as those obtained by utilizing actual people. This aids the sector in incorporating the best practices and safety precautions into their surroundings, lowering risk in the workplace.
3. Medical Care
As it is imperative to continuously enhance medical procedures in order to deliver better and more accurate results in the treatment of patients, training and process are among the primary necessities in the healthcare industry. Due to its ability to simulate, digital humans play a crucial part in medical research. A doctor can choose the optimal medical procedure for treating the associated health issue by combining data with an AI-driven digital human to better comprehend the potential adverse effects of any medical procedure.
In the retail sector, the main goal has always been customer happiness. The growth of digital businesses brings with it the usage of digital assistants, whose deployment provides constantly ready and prompt responses to consumer inquiries. As technology develops, consumers are expecting and demanding excellent services, just like in the media and entertainment sectors. The 24/7 accessibility of digital humans that interact with customers in a human-like manner improves user pleasure.
Future of Digital Humans
Every user will inevitably start using a digital human avatar as a persona to reside in the virtual worlds as we get closer to full adoption of the metaverse and Web 3. Users will soon be engaging with AI-powered "people" for everything in the metaverse as the relationship between humans and digital beings deepens.
The common user will soon be able to create their own digital person in their likeness or as something or someone else. They shall engage with the digital world through these digital extensions of themselves.
While considering it critically, it is important to remember the goal, treating technology and its growth as a tool rather than as a replacement for a human person. As more digital beings are produced, their presence must improve and present opportunities. By broadening their horizons, they may now create, cooperate, amuse, or even perform mundane jobs, and they can also become friends, facilitators, teachers, and much more. Among the promising instruments that call for thoughtful integration are digital humans. These tools may accelerate technological development, allowing people to focus more on their own growth and helping humanity advance even further.