The Future of Digital Humans

By 2035, the digital human market could be worth $125 billion.

Digital humans are computer-generated avatars that behave like humans. They can be used in everything from entertainment to customer service through motion capture, facial capture, and 3D modelling.

The technology might sound like it’s been pulled from the pages of a sci-fi book, but these avatars are impacting our lives. While today, they’re limited in their applications, the potential of digital humans could redefine how we interact with machines.

How are Digital Humans Currently Used?

The biggest advantage of digital humans is the real-time interactions they deliver. As such, their main uses are in customer-facing roles and entertainment, where they are revolutionising both physical and virtual experiences.

When controlled by humans, they deliver fine-tuned, unique performances or support. Real-time motion capture means actors, celebrities, and other performers can host virtual events or livestream from another location to reach their audiences. 

AI-powered digital humans can interact with customers, respond to queries and help with shopping – all the basic tasks that free real human employees to dedicate their expertise to more complex tasks.

Digital humans are delivering results for businesses. UneeQ, a company specialising in the field, claim their clients have doubled their conversion rates and seen a 300% increase in engagement after using digital humans. As more businesses realise the potential benefits of using these solutions, it’s clear that digital human use will expand.

The Limitless Potential of Digital Humans

For Businesses

By 2026, half of B2B buyers will interact with digital humans at some point in the buying cycle. 

On media channels, digital humans put a face to the business and offer customisable, cost-effective advertising opportunities. They can promote brands and products through content that is perfectly crafted and tailored to that brand’s values.

At conferences, events and trade shows digital humans are the perfect ambassadors for advertising products and the company, ensuring that prospective partners and customers get the information they need.

For businesses in industries like retail, digital humans are revolutionary for customer service and support. AI doesn’t need pay or time off, and provides consistent and personalised support around the clock, eliminating many of the drawbacks of physical staff in these roles. 

A friendly face handling inquiries, troubleshooting problems, and guiding people through complex processes helps ensure these interactions remain positive for the customer, something that is often hit-and-miss with regular chatbots.

In the Workplace

Virtual meetings and workplaces will become more commonplace if the metaverse becomes more integrated into businesses. Employees will then need digital avatars to work and interact in these spaces.

Advancements in AI could lead to more advanced virtual assistants that can schedule meetings, organise workloads, and provide real-time support. 

They can also help onboarding and training new employees by providing consistent and comprehensive inductions. Ongoing development with interactive training and real-time feedback ensures every employee improves their skills.

Digital HR assistants could help with administrative tasks, answer common HR-related questions, and support personal and professional issues. As digital humans can integrate into systems across a business’s network, they could provide objective performance reviews based on analysed data from work accounts.

In Everyday Life

Entertainment is one of the most exciting areas that digital humans could redefine. Whether it’s interactive streaming, events in the metaverse or creating your own content, digital humans help deliver real-time entertainment tailored to audiences or even specific people. 

Even today’s most in-depth RPGs have non-player characters (NPCs) following set routes and scripts. Digital human NPCs could respond to their environment and the player in real-time, creating unique narratives and virtual worlds that feel more real. That’s especially the case when combined with AR/VR in the metaverse, bringing to life the fantastic worlds and scenarios currently locked behind screens.

In events, digital humans offer more interactive experiences for attendees, such as personalised tours or recommendations. Virtual brand ambassadors could change how we view businesses, providing tailored experiences and content that inspires loyalty.

The Challenges of Adoption

Digital humans’ promise is clear. Virtual companions, business associates, customer service representatives—digital humans have the potential to transform almost every aspect of our lives. However, we’re a long way off from this potential becoming reality, and there are a number of hurdles to overcome.

Technical Limitations

Creating lifelike digital humans is hard work and resource-intensive. While at-home motion capture is more accessible than ever, achieving the high-fidelity graphics and movements needed for a digitally lifelike presence can still be technologically challenging and costly. 

That’s assuming a real human controls the digital human; AI introduces even more issues. While AI models can generate text and convert it to speech almost instantly, generating the facial expressions, lip movements and body language needed to replicate how we speak fully is challenging and requires significant processing power. On current hardware, this can introduce difficulties for real-time interactions.

Privacy and Security Concerns

AI needs access to huge amounts of data to be effective, but that raises the question – can we trust it? This is an especially valid concern if personal data is used, which it likely would need to be if digital humans become companions. 

With the risk of sensitive information being misused or breached so high, robust data protection and compliance measures are essential, but they can be difficult to implement and maintain.

Ethical and Social Implications

How does life change with digital humans? For instance, we’re already seeing digital humans as shopping assistants and in online support. If that trend continues and entire departments are replaced with AI, what happens to the human workers?

Digital humans becoming more commonplace also raises the question of misuse. Deepfakes could be far more pervasive and damaging. Criminals could create digital manipulations of people that are then used to target family or friends for fraud. Politicians could be impersonated to spread misinformation.

Even if those questions are addressed, the impact of regular contact with ‘fake’ humans on mental health is not fully understood, with some fearing that reliance on digital companions could diminish real human connections.

The Future of Digital Humans

While digital humans are in their infancy, it’s important to remember that the current versions of technology are the worst it will ever be—and they’re already remarkably advanced. 

Technology moves quickly. 30 years ago, mobile phones couldn’t fit into our pockets, but the latest smartphones are as powerful as computers. Digital humans today are impressive; 30 years from now, they could be transformative.

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