ObEn offers an artificial intelligence platform for celebrities, allowing them to create, store, and distribute a “Personal AI”, which is a virtual copy of themselves that acts, looks, and sounds like the actual celebrities. ObEn is the first company to put together natural language processing, computer vision, and speech to create a virtual 3D image, personality, and voice that can act as a virtual celebrity.
ObEN is creating a marketplace for the future where fans and idols can interact through the Personal AI across services and products in virtual reality, IoT, augmented reality, and mobile. The Personal AI product is expected to launch later in 2017.
ObEN raised $5 million in funding which was led by China’s Tencent Holdings. Li Ruigang, chairman of Fengshion Capital and CMC, also participated in funding. This new round of funding brings the total to $13.7 million in total.
“As technology rapidly evolves and moves towards applications using AI, we are excited by ObEN and their AI solution which is poised to enrich user experiences across different online platforms,” said Levin Yao, Executive Director of Tencent Investment. “ObEN’s vision of creating a new form of entertainment and content driven by celebrity AI is inspiring.”
Use of Funds
The funding is to be used to grow the AI platform for use on various platforms. It will also be used to accelerate product development.
“We are thrilled with Tencent’s strategic investment which serves as validation from one of the world’s premier social and gaming platforms,” said Nikhil Jain, cofounder and CEO of ObEN, Inc. “Fans may never have a personal experience with their favorite celebrity, but ObEN’s Personal AI for celebrities aims to change that.
Imagine being able to perform a virtual duet with your favorite artist, have your beloved movie star become the face and voice of your virtual assistant, or engage in a deep conversation with your most admired influencer. The possibilities are infinite.”
More About ObEn
The company has been reaching out to Hollywood talent agencies who may be interested in creating digital copies of celebrities, such as actors and musicians, for various uses. It has already begun work with S.M. Entertainment out of Korea to develop for their broad roster, including Kangta, BoA, Super Junio, TVXQ!, SHINee, and Girls’ Generation. The two companies have formed a joint venture called AI Stars United, which will use the technology to create AI-driven 3D avatars of celebrities for additional entertainment experiences.
With things like Apple’s ARKit coming to launch soon, there will be millions of devices available for this type of technology. Users may soon find themselves in an age where they can speak with their celebrity idols to get advice or just chat. It certainly feeds the love of celebrity that is celebrated across the globe, but it remains to be seen how full-featured and appreciated the product will be by the masses.
In either case, it’s an interesting new world we are watching come to life. It will be exciting to see where it all goes.