Research Report: ​The Commercial Value of Virtual Digital Humans

The Metaverse is a very hot topic at the moment, and the virtual digital human is a relatively leading field of application in the Metaverse category.

As an important medium linking the virtual world (Metaverse) and the physical world, the virtual digital human is an important branch application scenario of the Metaverse in the current stage. What the virtual digital human brings is not only an experience similar to human-to-human communication, but also a window to the Metaverse, bringing new changes to the user interaction mode and brand communication, whether in terms of technology or business capital, virtual Digital people have ushered in a development boom.

Core Competitiveness of Virtual Digital Humans

Due to the different types of virtual digital people, their competitiveness is naturally different. For example, the core competitiveness of virtual anchors and virtual idols may lie in who looks better and who dances more beautifully. It is necessary to use technology to make their details more realistic and more agile. If it is a virtual digital human customer service, its core competitiveness lies in whether it can really help people solve problems and bring better consulting services to customers, so it pays more attention to its natural language processing capabilities and other core artificial intelligence technologies.

In general, the core competitiveness of virtual digital human lies in whether it has a human-like thinking and its ability to interact. The thinking lies in whether virtual digital people can replace human beings and produce value. For example, Hua Zhibing, a virtual human student of Tsinghua University, has entered the Department of Computer Science of Tsinghua University. He has continuous learning ability, can gradually “grow up” and “learn” continuously, and will become more and more intelligent in the future. The ability to interact enables virtual digital humans to replace humans, communicate with customers without barriers, and solve related problems for customers. With the recent maturity of AI, AR, VR, 5G and other technologies, the core competitiveness of virtual digital humans is also gradually improving.

Application Scenarios of Virtual Digital Humans

At present, the scenarios where virtual digital humans can be applied in the Metaverse virtual world mainly include e-commerce live broadcasts, virtual idols and brand marketing.

The first is e-commerce live broadcast. At present, many e-commerce platforms will set up live broadcasts to attract traffic, and many e-commerce companies will shoot short videos to attract users. But few people can do live broadcasts for a long time, because the anchor needs to rest. However, virtual digital people can live broadcast 24 hours a day without a break.In addition, virtual digital people only need to rely on special effects to shoot short videos to achieve the effect of publicity at a lower cost (after all, the cost of actors is relatively high; virtual people can take many orders at the same time, with small profits but quick turnover). Using avatars for live broadcast or short video content creation may better promote enterprises to deliver brand value, help merchants retain fans, facilitate transactions, and create revenue. In addition, the innovation of content and marketing through virtual digital human technology + motion capture technology has become a new method for brands to stand out from the homogenization of marketing competition.

Then there are the radio shows. Virtual human has been widely used in the content production of news broadcasts, various performances, sports events, variety shows and other programs. For example, mainstream media such as CCTV News, Xinhua News Agency, and Tencent News have successively deployed in the field of virtual hosts. Virtual hosts have changed the traditional media broadcasting methods in the past, and spread news and TV programs in a more lively and lively form. The audience brings a brand new interactive experience, and the realization of such scenarios is conducive to the development of intelligent interactive virtual humans. Humans make mistakes all the time, but virtual humans don’t.Virtual humans only need to read out the press release according to the set lines, while humans may accidentally convey the wrong information.

Brand marketing is also an area where virtual digital people can be widely used. Enterprises can create a personalized and exclusive virtual digital human IP, interact with consumers in real time through the virtual image of the enterprise, and create a richer form of brand communication. Especially for young consumers, the virtual digital human image can make the brand cooler. , younger, easier to stimulate their potential psychological needs and form emotional resonance, which is more in line with the new expectations of consumers for brands in the “Metaverse” era.

The application of virtual digital human in various industries

In terms of application industries, virtual digital humans will also drive new changes in industries such as cultural tourism, education, finance, and medical care.

The first is the travel industry. The virtual human uses the roles of virtual tour guides and virtual commentators to accelerate the process of digitization and intelligence in the subdivisions of museums, science and technology museums, theme parks, and former residences of celebrities. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea has jointly launched a new tourism promotion campaign “Online Korea Tour, K-VIBE Tourism Festival”, which utilizes the Metaverse platform based on extended reality technology to allow people to travel before visiting Korea on the spot. Take a “virtual” online tour. The event has received a lot of attention from South Korea and even the world. In the Metaverse platform, it is best to have a role like a virtual human guide to help people have a better experience in the Metaverse platform.

Then there is the education industry, based on VR/AR technology, to create scene-based teaching, relying on virtual tutors to provide personalized virtual courses and learning environments. With the outbreak of the epidemic, many industries are gradually going online, including the education industry. At present, many people have more and more needs for online teaching. In reality, the energy of teachers is relatively limited, and virtual human teachers can provide students with personalized guidance and education to help students absorb more knowledge. Personalized courses are obviously a service that is rarely provided by the education industry at present, and virtual human technology can help enterprises provide related services.

Finally, there are the financial industry and the medical industry. In the financial industry, creating virtual customer service and virtual financial advisors based on virtual humans can create customer-centric, intelligent and efficient humanized services. In the virtual medical scene, the virtual guide can provide hospital tour and guide; the virtual doctor assistant can make basic diagnosis and triage according to the patient’s condition, and provide instant treatment plan and so on.

The market of virtual digital people and the competition of major companies

According to the “Virtual Digital Human In-depth Industry Report” by the market research institution Quantum, by 2030, the overall domestic market size of virtual digital human will reach 270 billion yuan. According to iiMedia Research, the core market size of virtual idols in China will be 3.46 billion yuan in 2020, and 6.22 billion yuan in 2021; the surrounding market driven by virtual idols will be 64.56 billion yuan in 2020, and 107.49 billion yuan in 2021.

With the rise of new concepts such as the Metaverse, the virtual digital human market is rapidly expanding, and applications in many industries are accelerating. For example, at various New Year’s Eve variety shows, many satellite TVs have launched their own virtual digital people to perform on the same stage with many guests.

In addition to satellite TV, e-commerce giant JD.com has launched a virtual digital human “Yanxi”, a digital human product that can provide intelligent consulting services. Fangzhi Technology (a leading high-quality educational resource service provider in China) plans to launch application products related to teachers’ virtual digital images in 2022. Fangzhi Technology has been actively deploying related technologies and patents, including virtual teachers and virtual teaching environments. Torsi (domestic artificial intelligence and big data technology and data service provider) utilizes the core technology of Chinese natural language processing, knowledge graph and other technological advantages to launch service-oriented virtual human, with priority for professional service scenarios such as finance, media, government, and marketing. Torsi also provides customized virtual digital human services for well-known C2M companies and listed companies in the field of online celebrity live streaming, and will enter the field of virtual digital human in the future.

At the iFLYTEK 2022 Cloud Annual Conference, iFLYTEK announced the launch of the iFLYTEK Ultra Brain 2030 plan, which clearly mentioned that professional virtual humans will be launched for the first time in 2022. The goal of the first phase of the plan is to launch a professional virtual human family and a robot pet that can be cultivated, which is expected to be realized in the next two years. In the future, iFLYTEK hopes to be able to solve various needs through virtual human technology, so that virtual human has more personalized characteristics.

ByteDance fully invested in a company that owns the copyright of the virtual idol group A-SOUL. In June 2022, ByteDance invested in Hangzhou Li Weike Technology Co., Ltd., which launched the virtual digital human IP image “Li Weike”.NetEase has invested in Shiyue Xingcheng, a virtual digital developer. The company is mainly a virtual digital human and virtual fashion developer, focusing on the development and operation of digital content for the sub-segment track of the Metaverse fashion trend. In 2021, the virtual digital human matrix such as Reddi, Vince and Vila launched by Shiyue Xingcheng has gained over one million fans and over 100 million traffic in a short period of time.

It can be seen that many companies have actively deployed related fields, hoping to be the first to eat crabs. According to Tianyancha data, from the beginning of 2021 to March 2022, there were 42 investment and financing events related to virtual digital people in China, with a cumulative investment scale of 3.389 billion yuan. And behind the active layout is also inseparable from the huge potential market of virtual digital people.

At present, with the maturity of related technologies (including 5G, virtual reality, etc.), the commercial application field of virtual digital human is also constantly expanding in a favorable environment. At present, it can be said that the Metaverse has not yet arrived, and the virtual digital people will come first. Perhaps, virtual digital humans will be the first profitable area of ​​Metaverse applications.

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