Baidu Extends Metaverse Push With Virtual Hosts

Baidu’s latest digital development is the next step in the tech giant’s ambitious Web3 rollout. Will the use of virtual hosts allow it to dominate China’s metaverse?

Despite the stringent restrictions from Beijing, Baidu is storming ahead with its metaversal ambitions. Today sees the launch of the annual flagship Baidu World 2022 Conference (July 21), where Baidu AI Cloud is set to launch a livestream platform featuring virtual hosts. These will support 24-hour, AI-driven livestreaming, starring hyper-realistic digital avatars each with a free choice of makeup, hair, clothing, and scene.

Also set to be unveiled at the conference is the “mass production” of virtual beings, which is to celebrate the group’s recent breakthrough with its artificial intelligence algorithm. The news, announced via Weibo, means that on the platform “every human will be able to possess a virtual counterpart.” Science fiction or the mainland’s new reality? Here Jing Daily analyzes Baidu’s use of digital hosts to dominate China’s metaverse.

Avatars are becoming one of China’s increasingly lucrative sectors in the metaverse 

Virtual humans are expected to reach an estimated value of $1.79 billion in the country (12 billion RMB) by the end of 2022, making them one of the key components of its metaverse strategy. Sarah Yam, co-founder of marketing agency Red Digital, believes that Baidu has recognized this business potential and is tapping it early.

“I think we’ll see Baidu leverage its virtual influencer technologies to promote and sell technological products,” she explains. “Virtual influencers provide scope for the company to make use of its years of experience cultivating artificial intelligence fundamentals, such as with its AI models.” Compared with using real livestreamers, the avatars Baidu is proposing are not limited to people, time, and space, which is expected to reduce its costs by more than 30 percent. Continue to read the full article here