Companies can ‘hire’ a virtual person for about $14k a year in China

BEIJING — From customer support to the leisure trade, companies in China are paying large bucks for virtual workers.

Tech firm Baidu mentioned the variety of virtual folks tasks it is labored on for purchasers has doubled since 2021, with a vast worth vary of as little as $2,800 to a whopping $14,300 per year.

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Virtual individuals are a mixture of animation, sound tech and machine studying that create digitized human beings who can sing and even work together on a livestream. Whereas these digital beings have appeared on the fringes of the U.S. web, they have been popping up increasingly more in China’s our on-line world.

Some consumers of virtual folks embrace monetary companies corporations, native tourism boards and state media, mentioned Li Shiyan, who heads Baidu’s virtual folks and robotics enterprise.

Because the tech improves, prices have dropped by about 80% since final year, he mentioned. It prices about 100,000 yuan ($14,300) a year for a three-dimensional virtual person, and 20,000 yuan for a two-dimensional one.

Li expects the virtual person trade total will continue to grow by 50% yearly by means of 2025.

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From a enterprise perspective, a lot of the main focus is on how virtual folks can generate content material.

Manufacturers in China are trying for various spokespeople after many celebrities just lately bumped into unfavorable press about tax evasion or private scandals, mentioned Sirius Wang, chief product officer and head of market Better China at Kantar.

No less than 36% of customers had watched a virtual influencer or digital superstar carry out in the final year, in response to a survey printed by Kantar this fall. Twenty-one % had watched a virtual person host an occasion or broadcast the information, the report mentioned.

Waiting for 2023, 45% of advertisers mentioned they may sponsor a virtual influencer’s efficiency or invite a virtual person to hitch a model’s occasion, in response to the Kantar report.

Rising improvement of virtual folks

Lots of China’s massive tech corporations have already been creating merchandise in the virtual people trade.

Video and sport streaming app Bilibili was one of the earliest to take the concept of virtual people mainstream.

The company acquired the team behind virtual singer Luo Tianyi, whose image and sound are fully created by tech. In the last year, the developers focused on improving the texture of the virtual singer’s voice by using an artificial intelligence algorithm, according to Bilibili.

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Launched in 2012, Luo Tianyi has nearly 3 million fans and even performed at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing last year.

Bilibili also hosts many so-called virtual anchors, which are the direct avatars of people using special technology to reach their audience. The company said 230,000 virtual anchors started broadcasting on its platform since 2019, and the virtual anchors’ broadcasting time in 2022 surged by about 200% from a year ago.

Tencent said in its latest earnings call that Tencent Cloud AI Digital Humans provide chatbots to sectors such as financial services and tourism for automated customer support. The company’s Next Studios also developed a virtual singer and virtual sign language interpreter.

Far smaller corporations are additionally stepping into the trade.

Startup Effectively-Hyperlink Applied sciences — whose cloud rendering tech help for Chinese language online game developer miHoYo introduced it success in the gaming trade — introduced in late 2022 it has developed yet one more mannequin of a virtual person in a three way partnership with Haixi Media.

Clarification: This story has been up to date to replicate references to 2023.

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