Nick Nigam

4 November 2020

3 min read

Avatar synthesis is the creation of avatars using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and computer vision. This technology enables the creation of life-like virtual personas for digital use, either as representations of real people or as embodied AI.

Synthetic avatars can be highly customizable and mimic human expression and mannerisms. They can, for example, be a digital clone of a person or viewed as a completely different being, allowing for a new type of human representation.

As part of our Synthetic Media Landscape research, we identified these five companies facilitating the development of synthetic avatars for use in multiple industry sectors, from entertainment to gaming.

Carv3D has developed a person-specific facial animation system called Deep Expression Transfer. After a user uploads a photo with their face in a resting pose, the system uses AI to transpose the face into a 3D image. Once uploaded, the AI can create more than 150 humanistic facial expressions for the new avatar in a process Carv3D defines as “morphology.” Each face receives subtly different expressions, and users can access and control the generation and customization of facial expressions as needed for the desired outcome.

Customer Profile:
B2B and B2C - 3D Animation, Virtual Production, Gaming

Hour One is a synthetic character development platform for professional and commercial use. It is designed to produce photo-realistic, ready-to-use characters based on real people. Avatars are generated in the cloud using artificial intelligence powered by neural nets. With various cloud studios, APIs, and SaaS products, Hour One is developing solutions for remote work activities such as Zoom, Skype, and content production.

Customer Profile:
B2B, E-commerce, E-learning applications

Spatial, a portfolio company of Samsung NEXT, is reimagining how work should be in our new immersive realities. Available on VR and AR platforms such as the Oculus Quest, it allows users to create lifelike avatars to interact with one another, transforms their rooms into spatial environments filled with information, and provides digital tools so that existing workflows remain intact. Design teams at Mattel use Spatial to review 3-D designs of new toys, including Barbie’s latest DreamHouse. And Pfizer uses it to orient and train new employees at manufacturing sites.

Customer Profile:
B2B, B2C - XR, VR, AR, Remote collaboration, Workplace

Twenty Billion Neurons, also known as 20BN, uses machine learning to provide personalized AI-powered coaching to help users stay fit. The company’s technology integrates computer vision, natural language processing, and synthetic media to create AI assistants that understand human behavior and can interact in real-time. 20BN launched its first consumer product, Fitness Ally, an application that features a virtual fitness coach that watches the user and provides instant, personalized instruction, and motivational support.

Customer Profile:
B2C, B2B - Lifestyle, Fitness, Women’s Health

Wolf3D is developing personal 3D avatars of real people for video games and virtual reality (VR). The company’s goal is to allow users to create their own personalized identity for virtual worlds, and its platform lets users transport avatars between different games and experiences integrated with Wolf3D.

Customer Profile:
B2C, B2B - Mobile Gaming, Virtual Reality Applications
What it all means

Avatar synthesis is a highly innovative and rapidly changing part of the media tech landscape. Creating avatars from just one photograph can enable users to build new personas for use in areas such as gaming, entertainment, advertising, and the upcoming metaverse.

Thanks to AI, software is increasingly able to embody and mimic human behavior,emotions, and intelligence. Looking ahead, the synthetic media landscape is on track to change everything we know about creating, receiving, and interacting with humans and AI.

Learn more about avatar synthesis on our Synthetic Media Landscape site.