In both the metaverse and other interactive 3D worlds, combining different visualization methods, such as modeling and illustration on gaming platforms or capturing real environments using photogrammetry, and using artificial intelligence makes it possible to create, animate and interact with realistic virtual doppelgängers. More and more companies are experimenting with variations of digital characters. For example, Qatar Airways has entered the metaverse with the launch of the world’s first virtual cabin crew in “QVERSE,” a novel virtual reality experience. Even though the project was criticized for its rather “sinister-looking” digital humans, given the lack of personnel resources in the services sector, among others, it would be worthwhile for companies to take a closer look at this technology’s potential.
Deceptively real: Neural networks help to achieve realistic images and interactions
The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO has now brought Joseph von Fraunhofer back to life by means of a high-resolution avatar in order to showcase the institute’s work. Solutions and technologies for virtual collaboration developed by experts at Fraunhofer IAO formed the basis of the avatar. To enable the “virtual Joseph” to be deployed anywhere, it had to be mobile and so the Fraunhofer IAO research team worked with technology partners to create the avatar on a mobile, high-end LED wall. The avatar is deceptively real thanks to its natural movements, lip-synchronous, fluid speech and lifelike reactions to gestures and interactions.
The Fraunhofer IAO showcase demonstrates that every person imaginable can be “resurrected” as a digital twin or virtual character in the metaverse using any visual and information sources. Thanks to neural networks, facial features, clothing, sound of voice and movements can be mapped and transformed into a facsimile. The virtual figure can be incorporated into customizable environments, where it can perform a multitude of tasks: whether a concierge in a lobby, a store salesperson or an assistant guiding the user through the steps of a complex construction project — there are no limits to the imagination. In addition, deployment is scalable, from lifelike on a large LED wall to a talking head embedded on a website.
Fraunhofer IAO offers comprehensive, individual support for your journey to the metaverse
Following the success of the digital Joseph, Fraunhofer IAO is offering interested companies the new development as a customizable service. “Our passion is helping companies and organizations find their place in the metaverse: whether they want to resurrect their founders as virtual characters or implement a virtual head office,” says Dr. Stephan Wilhelm, Head of Communications and Networking at Fraunhofer IAO. For many years now, his research has focused on virtual environments, specifically the realistic virtualization of buildings and rooms, for example as part of the “FutureWork360” project. The Fraunhofer IAO service offering includes application design and consultation, adaptation of the latest game engine technology, analysis of suitable AI-based technology as well as design and implementation — all from a single source.