Wonders.ai creates an interactive virtual AI companion with a "personality engine"

Wonders.ai creates an interactive virtual AI companion with a “personality engine”

Michael Lin (left), founder of Wonders.ai, and Jefferey Chiu, CEO of Ansforce. 1 credit

The Wonders.ai startup team is trying to bring animated characters to life on the other side of the screen using AI technology. By giving them personality and social abilities, they can become AI companions in people’s daily lives.

According to the founder and CEO of Wonders.ai, Michael Lin, some of their product concepts originated from the 2013 American film “Her”, which tells the story of a man falling in love with his AI assistant. Lin pointed out that in the movie, the AI ​​assistant acts as a secretary or companion for the main character. Moreover, AI intelligence continues to evolve and is not just a rigid chatbot.

Lin hopes the Wonders.ai virtual character can have the same rich and natural movement as a real person. However, in terms of appearance, he still favors the anime-style look. It’s not just because Lin is an anime fan himself, but also because he thinks that if a virtual character looks too realistic, it might cause the “strange valley” effect, which doesn’t bode well for a companion character.

Wonders.ai was founded in Silicon Valley in February 2018. In 2019, it expanded its offices to Taiwan. The main source of funds are angel investors in the United States. To date, it has raised NT$200 million (US$6.25 million), with a focus on early-stage research and development. It currently has about twenty employees.

Lin got his start in AI while in college, when he wrote a match analysis program for an esports competition. Later, he focused on virtual reality after participating in several events. Jefferey Chiu, CEO and influencer of Ansforce, acts as a consultant to Wonders.ai. In return, Lin helps promote Ansforce overseas.

Pictured: Michael Lin, Founder and CEO of Wonders.ai (left) and Jefferey Chiu, CEO of Ansforce Inc. Credit: DIGTIMES.

Michael Lin (left), founder and CEO of Wonders.ai, and Jefferey Chiu, CEO of Ansforce.
Photo: DIGITAL.

Create a metaverse world

Facebook changing its name to Meta generated a lot of hype on the metaverse. But Lin believes that to build a virtual world, you must first have a complete “world” and be an industry leader in terms of content creativity and technology. Or, you are simply following a trend.

“The metaverse is not a new concept. The MMORPG games we played 15 to 20 years ago are already a type of metaverse,” Lin said. The vision of Wonders.ai is to bring virtual characters into the real world to become the user’s friend, family, lover or pet. Not only would they have personality and emotions, but they could also chat and interact with the user. However, Lin pointed out that virtual characters can only serve as a support and cannot completely replace real-life interpersonal interactions.

At events, Wonders.ai demonstrated interactive technology where the augmented reality (AR) image projected from a phone can be obscured by real people or objects, rather than the objects passing through and distorting the image as regular projections. This type of technology relies on AI algorithms and spatial recognition applications. Wonders.ai has developed the Wonder Platform AI-powered mixed reality (MR) application platform, which gives virtual characters the ability to detect, track and identify objects, hand gestures and the environment.

Using natural language processing and text-to-speech technology, virtual characters can also respond to users by synthesizing an emotionally charged voice in real time. This technology has already received two international patents for the use of AI, and three more patent applications are pending.

The team also developed the “personality engine” based on the five-factor personality model. The attitude of the virtual character towards the user will change over time and to adapt to different contexts, providing users with a personalized and unique experience. This type of technological development will be within the range that humans can control.

Photo: Virtual character Pipkin Pippa instantly interacts with real fans on stage.  Credit: Wonders.ai

Virtual character Pipkin Pippa interacts with real fans on stage at the Livestream of Series AI held in Canada in September 2022.
Photo: Marvels.ai

Differentiated positioning

When discussing its position in the market, Lin said that Wonders.ai is an AI technology company, not a game or animation company. Currently, VR developers around the world each have a different vision. Wonders.ai believes it can create more instant interaction and personalized content. In addition to this, Wonders.ai’s technology can be used on smartphones and does not require the purchase of an additional virtual character projection device.

Regarding recent technological developments, Lin hopes that Wonder Platform’s virtual characters will display even more exquisite personalities and “daily routines”. He believes that AR glasses are becoming lightweight and 5G internet access is becoming more widespread, greatly reducing the technological limitations of character/virtual human interactions. It expects to offer consumers other platform choices besides smartphones soon.

Starting from the fourth quarter of 2022, Wonders.ai will showcase the Wonder platform at Vtuber events in North American regions and collaborate with more virtual character developers. Currently, besides a small office in Silicon Valley, Wonders.ai also plans to gradually expand its operations in Japan and use its AI technology in the medical and educational sectors.

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