In addition to basic technology research, Tencent has expressed its intention to promote the artificial intelligence of various application scenarios through business-driven.
Combined with Tencent's main business, it is not difficult to guess that the company will work in the four application directions of games, social networking, content and platform tools in the future.
Especially in the social sphere, Zuckerberg said last year that he would launch the VR version of F.acebook，It also shows the virtual character image tools Oculus Avatars；In July, Facebook said that Facebook AR Studio would work with Atlas to provide three AR cameras with special effects. Now, Tencent is going to do something about it.
On the evening of July 18, AI startup ObEN announced a $5 million strategic investment. This round of financing is led by Tencent, CMC Chairman Li Ruigang and Fengshan Capital follow-up investment. According to crunchbase, the investment and financing information platform, ObEN has completed four rounds of financing, totaling $13.7 million. Previous investors include S Rushan Capital, Softbank Korea Venture Capital Corporation and HTC VIVE X.
According to public information, ObEN, founded in 2014, can create user's AI virtual image by building personalized virtual voice, image and personality, and help users store, manage and operate their virtual image in the emerging digital world. That is to say, ObEN can use AI tools to create virtual images based on users'photos and voices, thus allowing users to have different AR and VR social experience.
In the past, ObEN mainly helped gamers create virtual images, but now the company is focusing on helping stars create virtual images. Through this virtual image, stars can interact with fans in real time. In the future, fans may also be able to seek advice from stars and get feedback accordingly. In addition, this virtual image is not only very similar to the star, but also the same way of speaking. Generally speaking, such a virtual image is better than a chat robot.
According to reports, ObEN also integrated voice, computational vision and natural language processing technology for the first time, and developed the virtual sound, three-dimensional image and personalization technology needed by the whole stack of virtual stars. Now ObEN is building a new business platform. Here, stars and fans can interact directly on mobile, augmented reality, virtual reality, intelligent devices, Internet of Things and other platforms through personalized artificial intelligence. ObEN's personalized AI products are expected to be released later this year.
The latest round of financing will be used to accelerate ObEN's product development and help promote its star AI copyright platform to be widely applied to various digital platforms. For this cooperation, Yao Leiwen, executive director of Tencent Investment, said that ObEN will bring new entertainment methods and content driven by star AI.
Earlier, ObEN said it would be "everyone's artificial intelligence social networking platform". In this regard, the company has carried out several layouts.
At the HTC Vive Ecosphere Conference in March this year, ObEN announced that in cooperation with HTC Vive, he had developed a micro-program for users to play with VR and "K Song" of VR. In this program, VR users can send invitations to their friends; friends who receive invitations can upload self-portraits and audio, and ultimately use the built image to walk along the beach with the invitees, or visit scenic spots.
At the end of April, ObEN launched a short video of a micro-Chat service that integrates VR social experience, and of course users need to wear HTC Vive headlights. In the short film, users need to take a self-timer first, upload it to Wechat to create a virtual image, and then bring HTC Vive to receive the information sent by Wechat friends, and can respond directly by voice. In the future, Wechat, which has VR and AR functions, may be able to harvest a large number of Asian users.
At the end of June, ObEN announced the establishment of a joint venture company with South Korean SM Entertainment, AI Stars. It is reported that ObEN will use artificial intelligence technology to create AI virtual images for famous artists of SM Entertainment, and Phantom Star Limited is the brokerage company that manages these "AI stars".
This time Tencent leads the investment in ObEN, whether it can further promote the artificial intelligence of the company's social business. Today, not only are companies busy building artificial intelligence labs, but companies like Facebook have established more like Facebook AR labs. In addition, it is said that Apple will soon launch the ARKit platform. In the future, will Tencent set up a separate AR laboratory to further lay out its social AI business？