Digital Domain’s AI-powered Autonomous Digital Human

February 2, 2021

Did you think that visual effects were only for the movies?  Think again.

Digital Domain is VFX studio that brought us the revived Tupac hologram at Coachella back in 2012 and most recently created the fully digital creation of Thanos for the Avengers movies.

But now, they have taken the movie magic one step further in creating an AI-powered ‘digital human.’

Meet Douglas the first AI digital human
As described in Digital Trends, “Douglas is an autonomous, digital human capable of interacting with users in real time and responding to visual and conversational cues.” Digital Domain’s senior director of Software R&D Doug Roble is the human model for the digital doppleganger.

Unlike a mere hologram, Douglas is interactive – he can have conversations, answer questions and make small talk on the fly. 

What Douglas is not.  “Douglas is not a photo-real, fully autonomous person that’s indistinguishable from a real person,” explains Darren Hendler, director of the Digital Humans Group at the studio. “That’s not where we’re at, and we’re not going to be there for a little while. … But this is where things are going and what the future looks like, and we’re trying to push those boundaries.” 

Douglas on Zoom – this is scary but also has exciting possibilities

Douglas is a blend of three separate technology tracks:

  1. Google’s popularDialogflow, the suite for creating chatbots;

  2. an assistant-type agent (similar to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri); and

  3. a natural language model –similar to theGPT-3 project, used to produce conversational text.

But the visual aspect of Douglas is what makes all of this so compelling.  A ton of data about the real Doug Roble, including his posture, hairstyle and his facial features and mannerisms –all that data went into building digital Doug. 

With these capabilities, Douglas has been appearing on Zoom calls to test and enhance his (its?) conversational capabilities.

You can check out the demo of Douglas on a Zoom call for yourself here.

We’ve put in a call to see if Digital Doug can make a guest appearance at our company Zoom meetings but haven’t heard back from him yet.

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