When you think of cutting-edge technology, it’s hard to look past the idea of the digital human as at the very edge of innovation. The metaverse has become a major global phenomenon, and one-in-four people will spend at least one hour per day in the metaverse by 2026. It is little wonder that the appetite for avatars and virtual beings is accelerating in kind. Indeed, Emergen Research suggests that the market for applications of digital people will exceed over $527 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 46.4 per cent. This is incredible when you consider just how young this market is.
Huawei took a leadership position in the sector when it unveiled the first AI-driven virtual human employee, Yunsheng in 2021. It is by combining the virtual avatar with AI that the space is going to truly start to deliver value to enterprises. “Growing use of digital human avatars for providing unique, lifelike, and engaging customer experiences and to establish a more immersive connection with customers is driving market revenue growth,” the Emergen Research report states in explaining the rapid traction digital humans will have in the market in the years ahead.
In the two years since introducing Yunsheng to the world, Huawei has found particular traction in the financial services space, where digital humans have become a particularly in-demand innovation indeed.
The benefits of the digital human to financial services
As Jason Cao, CEO of Huawei Global Digital Finance, said during this year’s Mobile World Congress. “Huawei strives to accelerate technology innovation and application in six fields, including shifting from transaction to digital engagement, developing cloud-native applications and data, evolving infrastructure to MEGA, democratizing data and AI, enhancing real-time data analysis, and moving towards a cutting-edge AI brain. In this way, we help financial customers accelerate changes, innovatively improve productivity, and make productivity visible, and speed up evolution towards the future.” When backed by powerful AI and the ability to operate autonomously, digital humans offer three particular benefits to financial services organizations:
- They address poor interaction experiences and marketing fatigue: The customer satisfaction level is low for traditional banks with poor service experiences.
- They are a solution to high labor costs and uneven capabilities: Employees' capabilities are uneven, and training costs are high, making service quality volatile, which further impacts on a financial services organisation’s customer satisfaction rating.
- They address low service efficiency: The “always-on” 24/7 capabilities, and limitless capacity of digital humans means that financial services can operate with efficiency that effectively eliminates missed calls and slow responses from service agents.
Several leading banks across China are already investing heavily into this technology opportunity. One major bank is using digital people to scale up video content production, increasing engagement across product publicity, customer teaching and engagement, and internal training.
Another major bank has used digital people to create “twins” of account managers, giving customers access to a virtual account manager that is always available to them via their mobile device for informational purposes.
Huawei’s technology can also be used to create 3D models of mascots, to supercharge a company’s marketing efforts. Huawei did this for an insurance company that was participating in a conference. It wanted something eye-catching and highly interactive to help promote the booth in the metaverse. Taking the company’s 2D, static mascot and turning it into an AI-powered 3D render delivered this.
Another key benefit of this technology is that it can be delivered and deployed quickly. The mascot example, above, was delivered in just three weeks.
The Digital Human-as-a-Service
One of the key announcements that has allowed Huawei to take such a leadership position with the digital human is the launch of its personalized digital human SAAS application. This can be delivered in just days, and will immediately begin helping financial services organizations to better participate in the metaverse era. Some of the key features of this solution include:
Customization with minimal materials
Customization of 2D digital human images and voices can be achieved by providing as little as three minutes of video material and 30 recorded voice sentences.
In minutes, you can access and use the digital human creation, whether it is in 2D or 3D.
Intelligent detection of language for interactives
The solution offers Chinese speech recognition of better than 90 per cent. The solution is also first in Chinese CLUE (Chinese Language Understanding Evaluation Benchmark), Arabic ALUE (Arabic Language Understanding Evaluation Benchmark), and Chinese AMR (Abstract Meaning Representation) semantic analysis.
Expressive & able to evolve
The avatars obtain voice drive MOS of > 4.8 and there are over 100 expressions & actions that are driven by semantics. Critically, real-time interaction occur with a delay is less than one second, allowing for authentic interactions at all times.
The system uses universal knowledge for continuous upgrades. 40+ general skill packages are preloaded and can be immediately used. Additionally, it’s possible to build the kind of unique industry knowledge that the digital human will need to have in just a few hours.
Essentially, through Huawei’s solution, financial services organizations will be able to get a digital human up and running with maximum efficiency, and quickly train it to combine the Digital Human Brain, powered by Huawei’s AI, with the specific sector knowledge that it needs to succeed in a sector with as specialized knowledge as financial services.
This innovation is possible because of the heavy investment that Huawei has put into the space. The company has invested $132.5 billion in R&D over the last decade, and more than half of its workforce (54.8 per cent) is directly employed in this area. The company aims to take a leadership position on all emerging technology fields, and has therefore been heavily invested in digital people in recent years.
Digital humans present a fascinating opportunity and future for humanity. As we spend more time in the metaverse, the quality of our interactions will become ever more important to the brands that take a leadership position in that space. Whether it’s a cute mascot being used to build a brand, or an effort to recreate the experience of interacting with a real person to provide customer service, the AI-driven digital humans that Huawei is pioneering deliver comprehensive authenticity to customers.
Huawei’s motto towards intelligent finance is: “Accelerate change. Shaping smarter, greener finance together,” and the innovations it is bringing to digital people is in service of this. With their ability to be “on” 24/7 and scalable to handle any number of interactions simultaneously, it is easy to see why this sector will become the next $500 billion area of IT. In the years ahead, it’s going to supercharge how financial services interact with their customers.
From 27 February to 2 March 2023, Huawei will showcase its groundbreaking innovations, as well as best practices with partners that help SMEs succeed, at Mobile World Congress, the largest and most influential connectivity event in the world. This year's theme is “Leading Digital Infrastructure for New Value Together”. Click here to learn more.