Krafton has now unveiled ANA, their virtual creation that’s meant to look like a young woman. While she looks like a regular person just like those in the real world, she doesn’t actually have any physical presence and is just composed of code, without any real conscience of its own (which is often the base of a lot of pieces of entertainment where robots end up becoming sentient so who knows?). In other words, it’s an AI with a face.
ANA was generated in Unreal Engine and looks extremely realistic
Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen human-like creations meant to make AI-based systems more appealing. However, this amount of detail isn’t something that’s seen all that often. Looking at the pictures that Krafton has provided, it doesn’t exactly have that “uncanny valley” effect to it where the character looks soulless and robotic, which a lot of artificially designed faces usually do. This in part is probably due to how the face has been rendered in Unreal Engine, which finetunes ANA’s facial movements in a very realistic manner. Aside from this, her hair, fine skin hair eyebrows, and skin texture is also generated quite well, making the whole thing quite believable.
Her muscles, eyes, wrinkles and other facial features are supposed to be very carefully controlled to express actual human emotions and she also has a voice of her own, powered by advanced voice synthesis so she can talk and sing just like she actually has an original voice.
The reason behind creating this AI wasn’t to prove how far we’ve come with graphic rendering engines though and Krafton intends to set up ANA as something of a brand mascot or a face to represent them, especially in their endeavours into Web 3.0. The virtual character will especially be something that helps them connect with Gen Z, the current generation of youngsters.
ANA will first be working on some of her own music (while AI art is common, a virtual popstar might be a first), after which she’ll also play roles in esports and entertainment. How she would contribute to Krafton’s Web 3.0 framework isn’t clear yet but it should be interesting to see how they utilise her.
All this does seem quite a bit futuristic but AI-based characters have been around for a while now. However, with a studio like Krafton behind it, they could take this technology to a whole new sphere and launch it into popularity. Very soon, we could see a lot more such virtual humans who could serve various purposes in entertainment, gaming and other spheres of technology. We’ll see more of ANA later on, in the second half of 2022 and hopefully, we’ll get a complete gauge of her capability and some samples of the roles she would be playing. All that being said, this was a pretty interesting announcement and Krafton could do a lot of interesting stuff with her.