Why UBS wants a digital human version of their Chief Economist – Previewing the future of consumer interaction

The Rundown: 

Most digital humans that we’ve come across thus far have been entirely fictional beings. However, FaceMe and UBS have teamed up to show us that digital humans can also be representations of real people. In a way, they “cloned” their Chief Economist into a digital human that can attend client meetings and speak with customers – thus maximizing how many places this key person can be at one time.

At this stage in the infusion of digital humans into society, we’ve only come to know fictionalized digital humans.

Lil Miquela sparked the digital human phenomenon and she is a fictional fashionista created entirely in Photoshop. Then, we had substantial follow-up from Soul Machines and FaceMe, two companies previewing how these fictional digital humans could converse with customers at kiosks in McDonald’s and Vodafone. (If you need a quick refresher, read Everything you need to know about Digital Humans)

Most use cases we’ve seen thus far are of fictional digital humans – fictional faces with fictional personalities, based on fictional backstories created by a team of people. However, there’s a future vision in which digital humans are tethered to real people. Essentially, we’re talking about the visual cloning of real people into a digital form that can be animated to interact with consumers.

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Digitizing Real People

The 3D digitization of real people is nothing new. For years, with the help of Pixelgun studios, the NBA 2k video game franchise has been turning NBA players and other celebrities into realistic video game characters. This is what makes gamers feel like they’re actually in the NBA and not on their couch pretending.

How can this same process be used in the corporate world?

Dead or alive, every company can point to a few employees or founders that are the lifeblood of that company – whether they are the strategic mind behind all the moves, the designer that crafts the consumer experience, or the personality that everyone associate’s with the brand. These are the people that you want at the helm of every interaction with customers. Unfortunately, they can only do so much in a day.

But, what if you could bring the essence of these key player’s to every single customer engagement?

This is the basis for the partnership between FaceMe and UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland), in a project known as UBS Companion.

Decisions about wealth management portfolios require reliable, accurate insight. UBS is currently exploring the use of digital assistants to help clients and client advisors find solutions on the spot through AI-powered, frictionless access to UBS’s expertise.

UBS Press Release

In a company as large as UBS, the people with reliable and accurate insight tend to be very busy people. Daniel Kalt, Chief Economist at UBS, is one of these people with great insight that every UBS client would like to have sit in on their meetings. This is why UBS hired FaceMe to digitize Daniel and turn him into a digital human that can interact with every customer at all times.

Instead of creating a fictional character, they’ve turned a notable face at their company into an omnipresent conversational AI. Ideally, the digital Daniel Kalt can distill and present all the ideas that the real Daniel Kalt does, but at a much larger scale. That’s powerful stuff.

Imagine if Phil Knight helped you fit into a pair of Nikes or Steve Jobs showed you how to navigate the new iOS update. This would make you feel pretty important, wouldn’t it?

It’s more enjoyable for consumers to interact with recognizable faces, especially if it’s the face of a very important person. Digital human technology allows for these special interactions between brand and customer to happen.

Not to mention, emerging technology such as the Bellus3D app is making it easier than ever for anyone with a high-powered phone to start creating a realistic digital human. Visually, digital humans are ready to be the point of contact with customers. Just look at Desi, the digital human that’ll work in McDonald’s kiosks:

The only missing piece is truly conversational AI, which can react naturally in conversations as a human would. That’s the billion-dollar question that countless companies are aiming to solve. This is why talking with Alexa or Siri seems so scripted.

Until we reach this feat in AI, we’ll see the early applications of digital humans (that represent real people) in roles that are largely scripted. Retail checkouts, simple banking operations, etc…

I think a really interesting use case here is political campaigning, where a large part is connecting with voters. A digital human version of a candidate adds another layer of connection, where I can ask the questions I have of candidates and get a quick response. Already, campaigners have thought through the ideal responses to every imaginable policy question. So, this would be a clean way of disseminating their views and plans to voters – instead of letting me dig through the muddied internet of political bashing.

The main point is that digital humans will play a great role in future interactions between brands and customers. Although most companies will see digital humans as a clean slate to which they can craft any fictional story. The highly effective digital humans will be clones of real people – used to maximize the trust with their fans, their customers, and their clients.