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China’s Virtual Digital Human Influencer

Recently, the State Key Laboratory of Media Convergence and Communication, Communication University of China, Media Big Data Center, and Number One Idol (Beijing) Digital Technology Co., Ltd. jointly released the “China Virtual Digital Human Influencer Index Report”, which pointed out the core viewpoints, classified reports, development suggestion.

With the rise of the virtual digital human of the metaverse concept in 2021 and the increasing demand for digital life among Chinese people under the epidemic, consumer-grade VR hardware and smartphone applications, the development of virtual digital human is rapidly heating up. The virtual digital human defined in the report is created through various aggregation technologies, possesses the image, personality, behavioural characteristics of a "human" and has the ability to interact with a "human". From the perspective of future media forms and service models, virtual digital people will be used as a new media role, widely used in the new ecology of the metaverse, and will be responsible for information production and transmission, a new medium of connection between things or IoT to IoT.

The application value of virtual digital human

With the advancement of aggregated technologies such as computer graphics, deep learning, speech synthesis, and brain-inspired science, virtual digital humans are gradually evolving into new species and new media. More and more virtual digital humans are being designed, produced and operated, the application scenarios have been greatly expanded, and the application value is gradually being discovered, activating the metaverse ecology, and will become an important carrier for human beings to enter the metaverse in the future.

Content Reconstructing

Reconstructing the content production mode to greatly improve the efficiency and quality of digital content production.

Virtual digital humans have been widely used in cloud games, film and television production, virtual entertainment, virtual anchors and other fields. Based on more mature software and hardware integration technology, processes such as modelling, computing, rendering, editing, and film combining are gradually automated, intellectualised and real-time. Compared with live-action performances, it has more freedom to play, and the creative content and extension space are liberate. Creators can collaborate online and collaborate efficiently, greatly improving the efficiency of content production and greatly reducing production costs.

Brand Application

Redefine the fan economy and help branding more outstanding

Brand endorsements, virtual concerts, and virtual live broadcasts have become mainstream application scenarios for virtual idols and virtual anchors. The personality, words and deeds of virtual idols are controlled by the brand, which is more controllable and safer than real stars, and can be extended and applied to more diverse virtual scenes in the metaverse, realising multi-layered communication, virtual idol IT transformation will become a popular trend, and the fan economy is rapidly rising.

Digital Transformation

The core starting point of digital transformation, helping enterprises to improve the quality and efficiency of production and operation

Virtual digital human will be more widely used in media, education, finance, medical care, sports and other fields, providing a new path for the digital transformation and development of enterprises, and will play an increasingly important role in helping enterprises to improve their production and operation quality enchantment. For example, virtual anchors can broadcast news in real time 24 hours a day “all year round”; virtual sign language hosts can alleviate the shortage of live sign language hosts and effectively solve the communication problems of hearing-impaired person; virtual employees can play customer service, tour guide, assistant functional role, not only improves efficiency, but also has extended value such as companionship and care

Extended Infinity

The core digital assets of the Metaverse carry the infinite imagination of “Second Life”

The virtual digital human will become the core interactive carrier and entrance of the metaverse, everyone may enter the metaverse with a virtual avatar, experience digital content such as games, entertainment, social interaction, education, sports, etc., to start a “second life” and pursue a truer, more ideal self. In the future, virtual digital human will have legal digital identities and be bound with personal digital assets to ensure personal interests and asset security.

According to the report, virtual digital humans can be technically divided into two categories: intelligent driving and real driving, and can be divided into three categories in application: identity type (such as real virtual avatar), service type (such as virtual employee) and performance type (such as virtual idols). According to the “influence” evaluation in the report, the most popular virtual digital human in China will be analysed and evaluated: virtual idols, virtual host and virtual employees. The following are simple definitions and main representatives of these three categories.

Virtual Idol

Definition: Appearing as “artists” such as singers, actors, models, internet celebrities, game masters, etc., with distinct personalities and talent settings, active in major social platforms, video platforms, variety shows, etc., and gaining more through the accumulation of traffic and popularity “work”.

At present, the most well-known virtual idol if Liu Yexi, a virtual beauty expert who can catch monsters. Her main active platforms are Douyin and Xiaohongshu, and her specialities are monster hunting and beauty. She became popular with just one Douyin video. As an internet celebrity IP with both “cyberpunk and Chinese fantasy” styles. She has become a benchmark for the virtual idol track.

In addition, there is a 15-year-old girl named Luo Tianyi in the second dimension. She is a virtual singer and artist in Mainland China, which debuted in 2012. She is characterised by being natural, gentle and meticulous, mainly active in Bilibili platform. During her first performance on 2021 Spring Festival Gala night, won a huge fan base and her original protest songs and public welfare songs have won her first social value of virtual idols.

Virtual Host

Definition: The “host” of the virtual world, including virtual hosts and virtual reports of major media on the professional track; and virtual UP hosts who are active on video platforms are operated by individuals or enterprises, and the number is huge.

The main representative is the sweet and friendly virtual digital person “Xiao C”, a new member of the artificial intelligence editorial department of CCTV, she is the host of the “Two Sessions C+ Detective” series of live broadcast programs, and is the first live broadcast representative of “3D hyper-realistic digital human” in the media industry.

Virtual Employees

Definition: Launched by the enterprise, as “digital employee” of the enterprise, it displays the products, services and culture of the enterprise to the outside world. One type is mostly used as “smart customer service”, and the other type starts to “absorb fans” independently on social and short video platforms in the form of idols and celebrities.

The typical case here is double eugenics AIYA, who debuted as a C-ranked student. She is the first “AI virtual brand officer” launched by aiBank in the financial industry. She is also an unswerving explorer with strong AI computing power, outstanding financial quotient, and versatile talents in the future of bank.

It launch a two-dimensional version on November 18, 2021 and launch NFT digital collections in the banking industry for the first time. On December 30, it will launch a hyper-realistic version, and interact with CCTVV virtual anchor Xiao C to debut. Lastly, it ranked first in the ranking of virtual employees with the highest scores of brand affinity, loyalty, communication, and innovation.

Another named “Ha Jiang”, characterised by a cool girl with blue hair, specialising in singing and fashionable outfits, “made her debut” as public welfare ambassador for Harbin Beer in 2019, and then became active on various platforms. In just two years, from the first virtual road traffic safety publicity ambassador and brand public welfare ambassador, China-chic KOL (国潮) , e-sports anchor, and then to the recent new identity “Warner’s first virtual musician”, her development has broadened the operation ideas of virtual employees, letting more brands see the new key to open the metaverse.

According to the polls and questionnaires of the “2021 China Virtual Digital Human Influencer Survey”, the public’s awareness of virtual digital human is presented. The voting results show that the number of votes is 170,000+, and the TOP 1 of each category is represented by Liu Yexi as virtual idol; CCTV Xinke Niang represents a virtual anchor; aiBank AIYA is a virtual employee representative. Results of the questionnaire survey show that for different types of virtual digital human, the public has significant differences in their expectations for their appearance, personality, technical capabilities, and service capabilities: more than 60% of users are most concerned about the appearance and works of virtual idols, 66% of users focus is on the hosting styles of virtual anchors, but 50% of users believe the most important thing for virtual employees is technical service and cross-border cooperation ability.

Lastly, the report gives five suggestions for the development of the index:

  • Building an omni-channel media multi-modal communication system

  • Building a continuous event marketing system

  • Excavate personalised communication content

  • Recognise importance of social value communication

  • Enhancing independent innovation capabilities

Development Prospect

Combined with project research, industry interviews, and expert interviews, the research group made the following prospects for the development of the virtual digital human industry:

  1. It is expected that by 2025, the “reproduction” speed of virtual digital human will exceed the reproduction speed of human beings on earth

  2. Virtual digital human will become a new interface for human-computer interaction, carrying the immersive experience of the digital world

  3. Programmable virtual digital human will realize intelligent and large-scale production of content, and form a new industrial ecology

  4. In 2030, more than 10 unicorn companies will be born in China’s virtual digital human race

  5. Technologies such as AI emotional algorithms, multimodal human-computer interaction, and brain-like science have developed by leaps and bounds driven by the virtual digital human industry

  6. The virtual digital human industry will give birth to new occupation such as “Vtuber”, “technical art”, Vup” etc., and the talent gap of related industries is as high as 1 million

  7. Virtual employees have become standard in consumer goods, finance, real estate, property, education, cultural tourism and other service industries

  8. With the explosive growth of virtual digital human, the construction of a trusted digital identity governance system and network security system is imminent, and it is urgent to establish a traceable distributed digital identity system

If you would like to know more about the data content of the report, you can refer to the “China Virtual Digital Human Influencer Index Report” for the complete content.

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