Behind the popularity of digital people: 20000 companies entered the price war, and the bid price difference was three or four times

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Since 2022, more than 5000 digital human related enterprises have been added.

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Originated by Chainxin (ID: ChinaBlockchainNews)
Author | Yang Zhengjun

Recently, digital people have landed in all walks of life, making science fiction come into reality. Ordinary users can spend 100 yuan to own their own digital people, and can also experience science fiction scenes such as riding broomsticks, practicing peerless martial arts, and traveling in space.

However, the business model of digital human remains to be explored. The price war of more than 20000 digital human companies in China has begun. In the chaotic quotation, some companies have to reduce the quotation by more than half.

Industry analysts said that most companies underestimate the technical difficulty of digital people. Digital people still have many technical bottlenecks, and technology is still the key to the development of the industry.

Double the number of newly registered enterprises in two years

On November 16, Jiang Yahong, CEO of Youlian Times, showed off his "achievements in martial arts" in the circle of friends. With the smooth Tai Chi moves, the Qi moves with him, and the sand moves away from the stone.

This is another new scene of Jiang Yahong's digital split experience. Previously, his digital split had participated in car racing, sat in a space plane, and played basketball with Kobe.

Youlian Times is a digital human company. It launched a 3D cloud array camera to reduce the production cost of the digital human to 100 yuan. Users can not only complete the production of digital avatars, but also let their digital avatars play in the Forbidden City, play with pandas, learn peerless martial arts, ride the flying broom to the West Lake, wear space suits to travel in space, etc.

At the same time, Lin Tiange (a pseudonym), an investor in the biomedical field, is promoting the "meta universe of the dead". He hopes to first create a super realistic digital person for cancer patients. With the help of AI and other technologies, relatives can meet and talk with patients in the meta universe after their death, so as to relieve their yearning.

Lin Tiange said that creating a meta universe for the dead is a good application scenario for digital people, but it is not easy to implement. There are still technical bottlenecks and high costs, which are being promoted step by step. Before that, companies have launched similar digital human products, which can realize the chat function similar to WeChat video.

Since 2022, with the popularity of the meta universe, the digital human, as an important track of the meta universe, has become extremely hot, and a large number of digital human related application scenes have been spread out. The once sci-fi scenes are gradually coming into reality.

Digital astronauts such as Xiao Zheng, a digital astronaut from Xinhua News Agency, Xia Yubing, an art digital person who graduated from Central America and boarded the CCTV Dialogue, Hua Zhibing, a virtual female student from Tsinghua University, and Dong Dong, a promotion official for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, have enabled digital people to "break the circle" and move from non mainstream to tens of thousands of families.

At present, Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, Byte and other large factories have entered the digital human business. According to enterprise survey data, as of the beginning of November 2022, there are more than 20000 existing enterprises related to digital people in China. In 2021, nearly 5000 related enterprises will be newly registered, while 5134 related enterprises have been newly registered in the first 11 months of 2022.

The entry of a large number of companies has boosted the expansion of digital people in various subdivided fields.

From the perspective of application scenarios, digital people can be roughly divided into performance oriented digital people and service oriented digital people. Performance oriented digital people include virtual anchors, virtual idols, and digital twin virtual brand spokesmen. Service oriented digital people include digital employees, virtual employees, virtual business people, etc.

At present, the mainstream of digital people is performing digital people. For example, Luo Tianyi, Liu Yexi and other famous virtual idols are active on various social platforms. In the 2022 New Year Gala of Jiangsu Satellite TV, the virtual people Deng Lijun and Jay Chou sing together, which makes the audience tearful. The virtual anchor of Spring and Autumn Airlines "Ah Qiu" plays Tai Chi with the chairman.

However, according to the Research Report 3.0 on the Development of the Meta Universe recently released by the Meta Universe Culture Laboratory of the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University, the current virtual IP is facing problems such as decreasing popularity to varying degrees and loss of user freshness. From the perspective of brand, the cost of producing high-quality virtual IP is high, and the subsequent operation is weak, without the support of high-level interaction capability, and the IP value shows a downward trend.

Compared with performing digital people, service-oriented digital people are becoming the future development trend. At present, governments, banks and enterprises have launched their own digital employees.

Cheng Weizhong, CEO of Zhongke Shenzhi, predicted that in the future, the interaction mode of digital people will replace the menu interaction in the mobile Internet era. As long as there is a screen, there will be digital people. IP digital people are similar to building stars, focusing on attracting eyeballs, which is essentially traffic economy, while functional digital people are expected to combine with all walks of life to enable all industries.

The price war started, and the bid price difference was three or four times

The concept of digital human was first put forward in the 1980s. Until 2021, with the popularity of the concept of the meta universe, digital human began to enter a period of rapid development, and 2022 was the outbreak of the digital human market.

According to the Research Report on the Development of the Metauniverse 3.0, the scale of the virtual digital human core industry will be about 33.6 billion yuan in 2021, with an average annual growth rate of 31%. It is estimated that the scale of the digital human industry will be 98.8 billion yuan in 2025.

Some industry insiders said that at present, Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and other big factories have unfinished digital human orders, and some big factories have more than five digital human related studios, but they still can't do it. Many digital human orders are outsourced to third-party companies.

Tang Jiaxian, CEO of Xugu Future, said that 2022 is the explosive period of digital human business applications, especially since the second half of 2022, the digital human market has seen an obvious situation of oversupply.

At present, driven by the concept of the meta universe, all major brands or institutions have deployed the meta universe and web3.0, and digital people+marketing has become the just need for brand digital upgrading.

Tang Jiaxian said that compared with celebrity endorsements, digital people have greater advantages, low cost, safety and controllability, and will not be subject to the risk of people crashing, such as the negative impact of gossip, romance, and lawbreaking, which is more in line with the public's expectations for the perfect idol.

The introduction of policies related to the meta universe in various parts of the country has also promoted the outbreak of digital people, and digital people+government affairs have become the hot topic of local governments.

According to the statistics of Chain News, more than 30 provinces and cities across the country have issued supporting policies related to the meta universe, and more than 20 special policies for the meta universe have been issued.

Tian Xin, the chairman of Zhongke Future, said that the application scenarios of digital people are still mainly to B and to G, especially the value of digital people in brand marketing.

Recently, Lockhart, the future digital human partner of China Science and Technology Corporation, won the bid for the government affairs digital human project in Longhua District and Longgang District of Shenzhen City. In addition, Zhongke is incubating two digital human teams in the future, one focusing on virtual human broadcasting, and the other focusing on technologies such as dynamic capture and real-time rendering of digital human.

However, for the popularity of digital people, there are also calls for calm.

Cheng Weizhong, CEO of Zhongke Shenzhi, said to Chainxin that since this year, the popularity of the meta universe has warmed up digital people. However, due to the impact of economic situation, most buyers seem more rational, and the client has not seen too many foam. "The meta universe brings us more friends than customers".

After the entry of a large number of digital human companies, the inner volume of the digital human industry has quietly arrived.

Tang Jiaxian, CEO of Xugu Future, said that the digital human industry has entered the stage of price war, and the price gap is wide, mainly because there is no more detailed recognized standard for the technology of digital human. For example, the style and quality of "super realistic digital human" in the market are uneven, and digital human needs the comprehensive aesthetic creativity of "technology+art", which cannot be evaluated only by technical parameters. As a result, customers have a vague understanding of the level of digital people, and the price of digital people presents a chaotic competitive situation.

The person in charge of another digital human company said that he had given a very low price when bidding, but some companies would still offer 1/3 or even 1/4 of the price. The difference lies in the product price of the whole process given by the customer. After the product is ready, the content output only needs a very low cost. The other company is a one-time product, and the content output needs to be done again. However, customers often do not understand the differences.

Industry analysts said that the chaos caused by the price war would also, to some extent, promote the technology upgrading of digital human companies and quickly reduce the cost of digital human.

Low entry threshold, technology is the key

Seeing business opportunities, a large number of companies poured into the digital human industry. However, most companies underestimated the difficulty of being a digital human.

Cheng Weizhong, CEO of Zhongke Shenzhi, said that it may take more than five years of iterative updating to make the actions and expressions of digital people reach the ideal level.

Zhongke Shenzhi has been deeply involved in the digital human industry for more than 6 years, focusing on the research and development of the real-time generation engine of actions and expressions, and the product has been iterated many times.

Technically, to be a digital person, you generally need to go through the steps of static model, action and facial expression binding, rendering and driving.

Tang Jiaxian said that there are many difficulties in the above three steps. For example, the static model looks simple, but it is not easy to make it look like a real person and look good. The flexible and natural movement and clothing materials are also challenges, not only involving technology, but also rich experience in artistic aesthetic control. In addition, artificial intelligence is the absolute bottleneck of digital human landing, and voice interaction, voice matching facial expressions and actions are the current difficulties in the industry.

At present, digital human companies are almost in the investment stage, and it still takes a long time to achieve profitability.

Go out and ask Lin Shixiang, the head of AI Digital Human Business Department, that the concept of digital human is very good, but it still takes one to two years for the technology to mature. The whole market is still thinking about how to make money. At present, most companies have invested much more cost than income.

In addition, the digital human industry has not only a technical threshold, but also a business model threshold.

Founded in 2012, Outward Questioning is an artificial intelligence company with voice interaction and combination of software and hardware as its core. It will enter the digital human field in 2019.

According to Lin Shixiang, at the beginning of going out to ask, the investment in digital people focused more on the C-end, and created a series of one-stop products such as Yuanchuang Island to enable digital people to achieve "per capita availability" and meet the needs of C-end users who are more inclined to entertaining and tasting new things. However, the willingness to pay in the C-end market still needs to be improved. At present, the digital human products that go out to ask are being explored and extended to the B-end, such as focusing on enterprise IP incubation.

Cheng Weizhong said that the key of the digital human industry is still the technology. Only when the technology is better and better, the scene will expand. For some scenarios that can be realized theoretically, if the cost is too high, it is impossible to go further.

After five years of technical accumulation, the Youlian era has recently entered an explosive period. On the basis of 100 yuan as a digital split, the 3D cloud array camera in the Youlian era has ushered in a large number of application scenarios.

Jiang Yahong said that in the second half of this year, 3D cloud array cameras began to go out of the company to participate in exhibitions to let users experience, but at present, tourist attractions, shopping centers, museums, wedding anniversaries, aerospace education and other scenes have been landing, and next year will also be landing Asian Games scenes, so that users can participate in the Asian Games games digitally, pass the Asian Games torch with stars and so on, and the digital human application scene will explode.

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