Virtual Human Startup Deepbrain AI Raises $44M
South Korean virtual human and conversational AI startup Deepbrain AI has closed a $44 million Series B funding round led by Korea Development Bank. Deepbrain’s synthetic video and voice creations are used by enterprise clients for customer service, education, and media, with the new capital earmarked for expanding into new territory, especially the United States.
Deepbrain Deep Pockets
Deepbrain offers to reproduce human faces and voices in digital replicas capable of speaking and moving like their organic counterpart. With enough visual and audio data, the company’s platform can create a virtual mimic speaking and performing to whatever script they input or connected to an AI that can converse with the look and sound of a real human. The startup provides chatbots, virtual agents, and other variations on the theme of synthetic voices and conversational AI, but the virtual human avatars are the centerpiece of its work for clients like Metro News and LG HelloVision. The results are effective and relatively cheap compared to video production. Deepbrain’s latest projects include virtual bankers to steer customers to the right human employee and AI tutors that can educate students while simulating a human teacher. Deepbrain is now valued at $180 million post-funding and about five years after the startup’s founding. The company reported $2.5 million in revenue last year but is expecting to double that in 2021.
“We’re excited to have the support of these leading investors who understand the opportunity we have to enhance the customer experience and lead the growing contactless industry brought on by the pandemic,” Deepbrain CEO Eric Jiang said in a statement. “This new investment is validation of our technology, strong business opportunity, and customer traction in key customer service-driven industries.”
Interest in the power and functionality of virtual humans has risen rapidly over the last year, fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent push for contactless interaction and overwhelming demand on customer service and other sectors. Unreal’s launch of MetaHuman Creator in February amped speculation, but as the funding demonstrates, competition is only increasing for virtual human companies. AI voice and video startups like Hour One, Supertone, Resemble AI, and Veritone are all nabbing funding and clients. Virtual humans are appearing in a wide array of venues, whether Nestle Toll House’s virtual human “cookie coach” Ruth, YouTube star Taryn Southern’s virtual clone, or CoCo Hub’s artificial popstars. The tech is easy enough to use that even a casual user can produce impressive fake videos like this fan-made trailer for Skryim voiced solely by AI. Replica’s partnership with Unreal is a milestone for a technology whose spread seems poised to accelerate over the next few years.