Virtual human is using Instagram actively to communicate with consumers.
/Extracted from Instagram ID @magazineluiza
The “Metaverse” has become a huge craze and exerts a strong influence on cultural content. Metaverse is a newly coined term from the word “Meta,” which means virtual and transcendent, and “Universe,” which means the world and the universe. The concept of the Metaverse is generally used to mean “A three-dimensional virtual space in which social and economic activities such as the real world are used.” It can be understood that it is widely used in a broad sense. As interest in the Metaverse increases, related technologies are also developing rapidly. As a part of the metaverse business, several companies are actively jumping into the preoccupation of Intellectual Property (IP) using “virtual humans.” As the Metaverse world is a space that combines virtuality and reality, it is very important to express virtual characters and set the environment realistically. Virtual humans are an optimized technology to achieve this.
Recent Virtual Humans Are Trying to Connect with Us
“Virtual human” refers to a virtual human created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and graphic technology. Virtual Humans have been in the spotlight as an important role in the Metaverse world, having a role as a major technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They look like real people and have a distinct difference from characters existing in games and AI speakers.
The biggest difference between previous virtual characters and recent virtual humans is “Intercommunication” with users. When viewed from the perspective of users who consume content, existing characters stopped working when the story in the movie, drama, or game ended. Also, originally, communication with the public was impossible. Even if the character’s Social Network Service (SNS) account was opened to promote the work, direct communication with followers was not observed. However, the recent virtual humans actively communicate with consumers, and it seems welcoming.
Virtual Humans Will Influence Human Culture
Likewise, virtual humans are emerging at the level of the “One-man brand.” The IT industry evaluates that virtual humans have a high potential in the future market. They are planning to use virtual humans in various fields, such as influencers, singers, game characters, and E-sports, and developing technologies such as artificial intelligence, voice synthesis, and hyperrealism technologies to use broadly.
Virtual influencers provide efficient marketing effects based on demographics and prospect data from diverse platforms and consumer groups. The emergence of Virtual Humans, which quickly adapt to fashion trends and are equipped with a high degree of freedom in creativity, will lead to the rapid growth of the fashion and lifestyle industries. Already, the popularity of virtual influencers at home and abroad has reached an unimaginable level. For example, Lu Do Magalu, a virtual human with the largest number of subscribers in the world, has nearly 25 million major SNS subscribers. The marketing hub measured that Magalu’s profits per SNS post will be between 10,000 dollars and 17,000 dollars, about 12.5 million won to 21 million won. In other words, she can earn 200 million won by posting 10 SNS posts a day.
The main reason virtual humans’ potential is considered limitless is that they can “act freely” compared to real humans. In the case of general human celebrities, they are not free from aging or unexpected incidents. Moreover, they have various restrictions such as a busy schedule. In contrast, virtual humans never die or get old. Also, their appearance and voice can be changed at any time to satisfy consumers, and lots of activities are possible in the same time zone. Virtual humans are the most “perfect” stars for content creators and advertisers, as it has no worries of being criticized for strict moral standards and privacy issues, unlike real humans. Therefore, using virtual humans can reduce costs compared to cast top celebrities, and its utilization in advertising and marketing is high.
We Have to Solve Issues to Use Virtual Humans in the Right Way
Even though virtual humans have such enormous potential, limitations and challenges also exist. Some people might think that even though a virtual human has lots of followers, they are not real people after all. Since virtual humans cannot think by themselves or express their own opinions, the influence of virtual influencers would clearly be reduced when consumers purchase goods and services.
However, with the development of related production technologies, it has become difficult to distinguish them from actual human models, at least when we are in the digital space. Rather, the primary evaluation is that virtual human production technology has surpassed the “Unpleasant Valley.” The unpleasant valley theory argues that when looking at non-human beings, the more similar they are to humans, the more favorable they are. This means that a virtual human looks like an attractive human, and it is even more attractive than an average human. According to the industry, virtual humans these days are approaching the likability of ordinary humans beyond this valley. Therefore, virtual human marketing beyond familiarity becomes possible.
Ethical limitations also exist. As human influencer plays a very important role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, there are legal provisions to prevent illegal indirect advertising, while virtual influencers are out of this legal framework and can be exploited for indirect advertising. When we use technology, it is necessary to keep the appropriate level, and virtual humans should also be used at an appropriate level. Therefore, standards should be prepared.
With the development of technologies such as AI and algorithms, virtual humans’ communication and response skills will improve further in the future, enabling virtual humans to have more meaningful social communication. Through this, virtual humans can be used in areas that require professional skills such as medical care, training, and various educational fields beyond the areas of culture and art currently active. Therefore, we should prepare to accept virtual humans as a part of our society. Suppose we find the right direction to use them positively and come up with regulations that allow the industry to settle in the right direction. In that case, we will be able to fully enjoy the new horizon that Virtual Humans open in everyday life.
Kim Ji-woo firstname.lastname@example.org
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