Digital Humans - The New Influencers
As a teenager, I remember the excitement I felt when picking up the latest editions of my favorite fashion magazines. Eagerly, I would flip through their glossy pages to discover the newest beauty launches, take note of fashion tips, admire the impossibly beautiful models, inhale the intoxicating aromas of fragrance sample inserts, and ogle at all of the vibrantly colored product advertisements. While traditional print magazines continue to hold their charm and carry a faithful readership, advertising has evolved beyond visually enticing pictures into a realm previously imagined in futuristic, sci-fi films.
Procter & Gamble’s Japanese skincare solution company, SK-II, has just announced the newest face of its brand, and the world’s first ‘autonomously’ animated digital influencer, YUMI. Created in partnership with Soul Machines™, YUMI aims to propel SK-II through their digital transformation journey, helping the brand connect with a new generation of consumers. YUMI uses Google’s Dialogflow, a “Google-owned developer of human-computer interaction technologies based on natural language conversations.” Dialogflow helps brands develop chatbots that can carry on conversations with their customers, thanks to its machine learning expertise and products. Its tools are used to power apps for the Google virtual assistant.
YUMI’s creation comes on the heels of digital models like Shudu, the self-proclaimed world’s first digital supermodel. Fashion house Balmain went as far as recruiting Shudu and her digital supermodel pals, Margot and Zhi, to be part of their #BALMAINARMY and star in one of their campaigns. Unlike YUMI, however, the digital supermodels are merely hyper-realistic static images, while SK-II’s new ambassador is not only animated, but she has the ability to interact with humans thanks to her AI-powered digital brain.
Soul Machines describes itself as a ‘Human Experience Platform’. They are a technology and science company that combines AI, experimental learning, and computational brain models to deliver a new kind of human experience deemed ‘human digital beings’—like SK-II’s YUMI. Soul Machines want to disrupt customer and brand experiences as we know them through digital interfaces, applications, and interactions that deliver unique, powerful connections.
As the first digital influencer offered by Soul Machines, YUMI aims to help humanize the brand by both looking incredibly realistic and possessing the ability to have autonomous interactions based on knowledge, emotion, and intelligence. She will be able to engage in conversation and react appropriately, just like a human would, thanks to her AI-powered Digital Brain. YUMI’s unique personality comes from her Digital DNA™, which includes intelligence and physical characteristics that not only make her behave in a lifelike fashion but also enables her to attune herself to reflect the personality of the brand. YUMI is able to adapt, react, and respond to a wide range of situations by seamlessly integrating information and continually improved learning, all supported by her AI.
For SK-II, YUMI will be able to consult and advise consumers on a variety of issues related to skin and product selection. “YUMI is a Digital Influencer with a difference. She engages and responds as a human would. She won’t know everything but will know what to do when she doesn’t. She represents a new way for brands to be more human in engaging humans in a highly scalable way.”
In the promo video, YUMI introduces herself and proclaims to be “totally obsessed with skin care” and ready to chat about SK-II products anytime, anyplace. YUMI goes on to give her first piece of advice to the audience, “Moisturize!” She claims that’s the secret to her glowing pixels. Yeah, she’s got a sense of humor! She states that she is really proud of her digital brain, a source of envy for many other OSs, and talks about how she likes to “chill in the cloud” while tapping into the top-notch skin care resources to help her give the best advice possible. I kind of wish I could hang out with her.
I wanted to know more about digitals humans and their creators, so I connected with Soul Machines to get first-hand answers to my questions.
I’ve read YUMI was created using Google’s Dialogflow. Are you using Dialogflow in all of your developments or just YUMI?
“Google Dialogflow is the NLP engine used to provide YUMI’s conversational content. Soul Machines is agnostic and works with all NLP engines.”
What is Soul Machines, and what makes it unique?
“Soul Machines is a deep science and technology company fusing AI, computational brain models, and experiential learning to usher in a new era of Human Experience across all digital platforms and interfaces. We are first applying our innovations to redefine customer and brand experience—through digital interfaces and applications ranging from service and support to sales and product. In the process, we’ve created the world’s most hyper-realistic digital humans, and we can autonomously animate them using the world’s only Digital Brain.”
What is a “digital human”? What makes it different from a chatbot?
“Our hyper-realistic digital humans personalize the customer experience through face-to-face interactions with their unique ability to create engaging customer connections based on the emotional responsiveness of the digital humans. By putting a face on AI, we believe we are making machines more relatable and trustable by the humans they interact with.”
What are some of the applications of Soul Machines digital humans?
“Soul Machines’ autonomously animated digital humans are opening the doors to a new-era of human-style customer experience that can be utilized across a wide range of industries that are leading the way in this era of digital disruption—including Automotive, Customer Services, Financial & Banking Services, Healthcare, Media, Software and Technology. We’ve worked with some of the most innovative brands today, such as Autodesk, Mercedes-Benz, Royal Bank of Scotland and ANZ Bank.”
Who is YUMI? How did it get created, and what will it be able to do?
“YUMI is an integral part of SK-II’s ongoing transformation journey to connect with a new generation of consumers. Using Google Dialogflow as its natural language platform, YUMI is capable of interacting as a human would and will not only provide beauty advice but also help consumers better understand their skin and guide them on their journey to skin transformation.”
Why do you think SK-II chose to work with you guys on this and what do you hope YUMI will help the brand accomplish?
“SK-II recognizes the value in combining technology and creativity to benefit customers. They wanted something more than a digital influencer. They wanted a digital influencer with the warmth and connection of human touch in the form of a digital experience to make the overall skin care experience at home and in-store more enjoyable and compelling. We think SK-II customers will turn to her for skincare and beauty questions at any time of the day or night.”
Digital Humans and Digital Influencers can be a cost-effective solution for brands looking to connect with their customers and deliver authentic experiences while preserving their brand’s message. The new virtual humans aim to replace the boring, generic chat-bot to deliver quality, humanized interactions while helping extend real-life branding into a virtual dimension. I look forward to seeing YUMI in action and having a chat with her about my skincare routine.