Virtual characters and emotions in speech synthesis how conversational artificial intelligence will change in 2022

(ORDO NEWS) — The conversational AI market in Russia is growing annually and will reach $561 million by 2025. Over the past year, developers have learned to better convey emotions in speech synthesis, virtual characters spoke in different voices, telephone secretaries stood up to protect users from spam calls.

Advances in technology went hand in hand with discussions about the metaverse. We tell you what the symbiosis of AI and AR/VR means and what trends in conversational AI will manifest themselves in 2022.

Virtual characters of the metaverses

First, the metaverse was presented by Meta, then Baidu showed the digital world of Xiang, inhabited by virtual characters. Nvidia made the Omniverse platform free, Hyundai developed the concept of met mobility.

Next generation virtual worlds provide real immersion, a prime example is the Matrix Awakening demo game powered by Unreal Engine 5. Oculus Quest 3 smart glasses are coming soon and will also accelerate the breakthrough in the metaverse.

Virtual worlds cannot be imagined without virtual people. Let’s call them NPCs – non-player characters. Interest in the topic is noticeable by the activity in the venture capital market.

The Japanese media company Nikkei has launched a platform for creating videos with virtual characters, Sber has created a news anchor based on AI technology. The global VR market is expected to grow by 18% annually until 2028.

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To make virtual characters and synthesized videos with their participation look realistic, technology will be required to create natural speech. We expect that the characters will begin to speak in different voices, reproduce facial expressions and emotions of users.

Large brands will be able to use virtual characters as part of their corporate identity, along with the logo and slogan.

The first clients are appearing, planning to open VR offices for employees and clients by the end of the year and use virtual personalities in them. The trend for characters in the metaverse promises to be long-term, but soon we will see pilot projects, including in games, social networks, on YouTube.

Emotions in speech synthesis

According to Research and Markets, the global speech technology market will reach $34.41 billion by 2026.

The quality of speech synthesis is constantly growing: new technologies provide natural sounding of synthesized phrases, hybrid synthesis allows you to seamlessly glue voice-recorded and generated replicas.

The trend of 2022 is the transfer of emotions, that is, controlled synthesis so that the speech of an assistant or a virtual character sounds happy or sad, angry or friendly, depending on the needs of the project.

Another challenge is intonation, so that the synthesis does not give out the monotonous sound of phrases, but allows you to highlight words depending on the context.

For example, in the short phrase “What’s the weather like today?” you can intonationally highlight the weather or today, and this will change the meaning of the question.

Voice cloning

The global voice cloning market is expected to grow by more than 30% annually.

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The platform for creating custom neural voices was introduced by Microsoft Corporation, and the first voice marketplace. The cloning technology will diversify the sound of assistants, virtual characters, games and podcasts, and will help big brands to find unique voices.

Machine translation to the next level

The global machine translation market is expected to grow to $164.7 million by the end of 2027.

Technology in this area has advanced significantly. Many open source models have emerged and we expect more to come next year.

The evolution of machine translation will allow users who speak different languages ​​to communicate without an interpreter and understand each other in real time, as well as watch movies, videos, live broadcasts in an unknown language.

Telephone secretaries

In 2022, we predict a battle of telephone secretaries: the mobile assistant Oleg from Tinkoff, the robot Masha , is already available . Megafon subscribers can install a voice assistant Eva. In the future, other mobile operators will have similar solutions.

They all work in much the same way: telephone secretaries receive calls for the user if it is inconvenient for him to talk, support the conversation and then send a transcript of the conversation to the subscriber’s messenger. Thus, the solution allows you not to miss important calls, while eliminating voice spam.

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The spread of telephone secretaries will lead to a drop in the segment of outgoing telephone calls. Companies that currently practice voice mailings and robotic calls will be forced to find an alternative way to deliver information.

On the other hand, telephone secretaries will become smarter, they will learn to filter calls better and select targeted offers depending on the needs and interests of the user.

Smart devices

The past year has created a truly massive demand for smart speakers in Russia. The impulse to sales was given by the release of new devices in the economy segment. We estimate the market size for 2021 at RUB 14 billion. This is a significant figure, given that the entire niche is occupied by devices developed exclusively by domestic IT companies.

According to the results of the period 2018-2021, Russian users have more than 4 million smart speakers, screens and smart TV set-top boxes: 70% of the market are Yandex devices with an assistant Alice, 21% are Sber devices with assistants from the Salyut family and 9% are smart speakers “Capsule” with an assistant Marusya from VK. In 2022, fierce competition will continue between companies.

Voice assistants

Assistants will become more and more personal, and this is a long-term trend that will manifest itself not only in 2022, but also beyond.

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In the segment of voice custom assistants, after the banks that were active in the past and the year before, retailers will come. Voice technologies will also begin to penetrate the HR sphere, virtual assistants will become personal assistants to employees and, for example, simplify the onboarding procedure for them.

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