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Soul Machines is launching the Digital DNA platform today for creating lifelike avatars.

Soul Machines has produced a number of what it calls “digital humans” such as a lifelike avatar baby and assistants for customers like Mercedes-Benz, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Autodesk, which commissioned its customer service agent Ava.

Each previous avatar or character made by Soul Machines was based on the features of an actual person, but Digital DNA is designed to make avatars without the need to design based on the characteristics of any individual person, a development Soul Machines chief business officer Greg Cross said, reducing a process that used to take months down to a matter of minutes.

Cross envisions businesses using the platform to create multiple virtual employees who can fit any customer’s preference.


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“Rather than having a single digital human or a single digital employee as a brand representative, we believe that on an ongoing basis customers should be able to choose who they want to interact with. Do you want to interact with a male or a female? Do you want to interact with somebody who’s the same age or ethnicity as you? Do you want to interact with a digital human that speaks English or Spanish? So all of these things using our Digital DNA platform become a whole bunch easier going forward,” he said.

In addition to making lifelike digital faces, Soul Machines uses neural nets to animate the movement of bodies of digital characters so they’re able to move in ways that mimic human movement.

Based in New Zealand, Soul Machines is the brainchild of founder Mark Sagar, whose work in digital graphics for movies like King Kong and Spider-Man 2 won him an Academy Award.

Beyond applications in business, Soul Machines is exploring the creation of avatars for celebrities, sports stars, and famous actors and actresses.

Autodesk’s Ava, for example, is based on New Zealand actress Shushila Takao, while the company has also made an avatar based on actress Kate Beckinsale.

Other projects in the works include an avatar for a popular musician and an effort to animate a long-dead artist.

“What’s interesting about this artist is we’ll be able to bring somebody back to life in an interactive way that’s been dead for a good number of years, so yeah, there are certainly use cases we imagine, and that’s an example of one were working on,” Cross said.

Avatars for game and entertainment industry clients or allowing people to make their own “digital twin” may also emerge, he said.

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