Virtual Beings Summit Returns, First Grant Winners Revealed

In the summer the first Virtual Beings Summit was held in San Francisco, bringing together innovators in this space as the experimentation into virtual beings continues to grow. Today, sees the arrival of the second summit, this time held at the United Talent Agency (UTA) Theater in Beverly Hills alongside revealing the first Virtual Beings Grants winners.

UTA Building crop

The summit aims to bring leaders in the field of entertainment and artificial intelligence to discuss virtual beings, avatars, agents, assistants, and influencers. If you’re not sure what a virtual being is they’re described as: “A character that you know isn’t real but with whom you can build a Two-way emotional relationship.” You’ve probably already come across one in your everyday life, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Lil Miquela on Instagram or even the recent news that James Dean is being brought back to life as a virtual actor. When it comes to virtual reality (VR) the best example currently is Fable’s Wolves in the Walls featuring central character Lucy, with the final chapter arriving this month.

Experts talking at the Virtual Beings Summit will include Doug Roble (Digital Domain), Geoff McFetridge (artist), Chris Bregler (Google AI), and Emma Coats (Editorial Lead in Personality for Google Assistant), discussing topics across Digital Humans, Virtual Friends, Virtual Influencers, Conversational AI, Machine Learning and more. UTA’s Head of Ventures Sam Wick will also be hosting an Investor Panel featuring David Min, Jon Goldman, Clinton Foy, and Will Thompson.

As for the Virtual Beings Grant winners three have been chosen, Joylab, Rattapallax and Thoughtfish. It hasn’t been revealed how much each project received but the grants range from $1,000 to $25,000 USD depending on the idea.

Joylab - diner
Image credit: Joylab – diner

The key aspect for employing a virtual being within a VR experience is the ability to evoke a stronger emotional connection, therefore increasing that sense of presence and immersion a player feels. Using machine learning these virtual beings can then remember conversations and interactions, offering a unique experience for each person.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of the summit and virtual beings in general, reporting back as their implementation grows and becomes more advanced.