For the last several weeks, a subsidiary of Samsung, known as Samsung Technology & Advanced Research Labs (STAR Labs) has been teasing what it describes as an ‘artificial human’.
Early speculators initially believed Neon would be an evolution of Samsung’s popular voice-powered Bixby client — but it isn’t. STAR Labs has already shot down this hypothesis while reiterating that Neon is something that is unlike anything we have seen before.
What is Samsung’s Project Neon?
Although it remains unclear what Neon is, STAR Labs appears to be doing whatever it can to hype the project before its initial unveiling. The project currently has social media accounts setup across all major platforms and already has thousands of followers, despite posting minimal information about the product and asking obscure questions like “Have you ever met an ‘ARTIFICIAL’?”
As it stands, exactly what Samsung’s Project Neon is, remains a mystery. However, current speculation indicates it could be a new form of digital avatar technology, which could be used for a huge number of purposes, including entertainment, customer support and a variety of business uses.
Nonetheless, clues about what exactly Neon is can be gleaned from a variety of sources, such as some of Samsung Research America’s recently register Neon trademarks, including “NEON Artificial Human,” “NEON.Life,” and “Core R3”. In particular, part of the core R3 trademark reads as follows;
“Downloadable and recorded software for creating, viewing, manipulating, editing, storing, publishing, and exporting virtual characters; downloadable and recorded software for developing virtual characters.”
Neon and Avatar Technology
When combining this information with the content shown in (now deleted) videos extracted from the neon.life website, it becomes clear that project Neon definitely revolves around avatar technology, and likely allows users to create their own life-like avatars (likely termed ‘Artificials’) for a variety of purposes.
This is further corroborated by a recent tweet by Project Neon lead and computer-human interaction researcher Paranav Mistry, who posted images of what looks to be a lifelike, customizable avatar built using the CORE R3 engine. It appears that the avatars currently require a source material obtained via motion capture technology since at least some of the characters shown in the leaked videos are based on real people.
Flying to CES tomorrow, and the code is finally working 🙂 Ready to demo CORE R3. It can now autonomously create new expressions, new movements, new dialog (even in Hindi), completely different from the original captured data. pic.twitter.com/EPAJJrLyjd
— Pranav Mistry (@pranavmistry) January 5, 2020
Moreover, it also appears that Neon is also capable of synthesizing realistic voices — likely using some sort of artificial intelligence to generate new material from voice recordings.
As it stands, the official website provides exactly zero details on what Neon is, and only displays a timer counting down to the official unveiling along with vague futuristic looking imagery. Fortunately, we won’t need to wait long to find out exactly what Neon is since Samsung will be showcasing the new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Tuesday next week.
Images are courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock, Pixabay.