Last weekend was a hectic one for Wonders.AI, the company behind Wonder Platform. Over the weekend, they made it possible once again for fans to meet and greet Phase Connect's Pipkin Pippa and MyHolo TV's Liliana Vampaia at Series AI's Cyber Sakura—as if they were there in person. They did the same with Liliana at Malaysia's Anime Fest Plus as well.
Wonders.AI is an interesting company which use these technologies to help fans meet their idols closer, leading to fun, memorable moments in the process (such as fans' antics with Pippa).
- Wonders.AI launched Wonder X as a game on Magic Leap in 2018.
- A year after, they developed their in-house solution for real-time hand tracing and gesture recognition.
- The company's AR Live Streaming in 2020 made it possible for virtual characters to be livestreamed in real time through its mobile applications.
- In 2022, Wonderverse—the AI platform where users are able to interact with their favorite AI companions—was developed. As you read this, Wonderverse is now available for download on the App Store and Google Play.
Fresh off their successful activities and just before their upcoming appearance at Offkai Expo this June, VTuber NewsDrop asked Wonders.AI CEO Michael Lin what led them to establish Wonderverse, a platform focused on the fusion of virtual characters and artificial intelligence.
The Inspiration for Wonderverse
What led to the development of Wonderverse? What was the inspiration for this?
Michael Lin: Growing up with video games and anime characters, we at Wonders.AI fully understand the importance of virtual characters for the younger generations.
From children, teenagers, and to adults, we all have our favorite characters in some shape or form, whether it is their real-life friends, favorite celebrities, cartoon and anime characters, or characters from a story or novel.
We want to create a platform that can utilize cutting-edge AI technology to introduce a new dimension of interactivity between characters and their users. Through Wonderverse, we want to realize the ability to interact, socialize, and live with your favorite virtual character.
Wonderverse and VTubers
What led to Wonderverse partnering with VTubers?
Interaction with virtual characters, “companionship,” is a new frontier and has never been fully realized in the past. Only recently have businesses started to see the potential AI has and the value it may bring to users.
We chose to start partnering with VTubers first because VTubers exist in a medium that already provides “companionship” to their fans and viewers. Fans, being able to load up their favorite stream and directly interact with a VTuber on stream is already a faint realization of the“companionship” we envision.
We don’t see our AI technology replacing VTubers but instead empowering VTubers to have more engaging interactions and personalization with their fans no matter on or off stream.
Furthermore, it enables VTubers to further understand what type of interactions fans would actually like with the VTuber. The VTuber industry isn’t the only market we have our roots in. We are also working with big players in the Anime industry to bring more novel virtual character experiences to more users soon.
Building the AI Infrastructure
Audience reception for Wonderverse's AR Live in several events (as shown here) has been positive, and the technology is impressive. May we ask how long did it took for the whole AR Live's tech infrastructure to be built?
Wonderverse AR Live, a feature of Wonderverse, is an interconnected medium that allows any number of Virtual Characters (powered by AI or not) to appear in the real world and interact with multiple users at the same time.
It began as a personal project in 2020 and it took 6 months to develop the prototype for Wonderverse’s AR Live, and another 6 months to bring the infrastructure to production. There wasn’t anything like it before on the market so a lot of work went into testing and optimizing.
Wonderverse AR Live now allows more than 10+ virtual characters to appear in the same space simultaneously appearing on over 3000+ end devices. This means not only are people able to interact with virtual characters at any specific location/stage, but 3000+ users with the same software may join in online and interact simultaneously.
It sets the foundation for the medium we think virtual characters are able to live alongside people. Furthermore, the entire system is cross-platform, portable, and can be installed on a smartphone and used in a more personalized setting, unlike existing technology such as customized holographic stages.
How about Hardware Compatibility?
We noticed that the Wonderverse app runs on the latest smartphones. Have you considered the companion app's backwards compatibility along the way?
The reason why Wonderverse App runs on the latest smartphone is because the entire system uses real-time rendering and real-time AI. This enables users to “touch” and converse with the virtual characters in AR using the app.
We will be implementing a performance mode soon, allowing users with less powerful smartphones to interact with their favorite characters on the app.
Making Sure Each Interaction is Seamless
We also learned that the companion app has several functions such as Personal Assistant, Nutritionist, and Chat. How do you make sure that every experience is customized, seamless and accurate?
Each AI feature introduced in the companion app is specifically tailored to express the character’s personality, voice, and context through AI.
Furthermore, by utilizing the AI features, users are able to influence the character’s memory and enable the character to understand the user more. This is just the first step of customization and personalization.
Wonderverse's Benefits for VTubers
Aside from Phase Connect's Amanogawa Shiina, Tenma Maemi and Pipkin Pippa; and MyHolo TV's Liliana Vampaia; You also announced that Kawa Entertainment's PiaPi UFO; Shirayuri Production's Nyaru; and Punkalopi will be on the platform. If a VTuber wants to join the platform, what is the common basic requirement they need to fulfill?
Other than needing a 3D model, we are actively looking for passionate VTubers who want to explore and introduce new interactions, and possibilities with their fanbase. We are only at the beginning of this paradigm shift so we do not limit ourselves and are equally open minded to different types of opportunities.
The Vision for Wonderverse
Why should everyone try the Wonderverse platform? What do you look forward to building with the Wonderplatform in the future?
We envision a future where everyone would have a personalized virtual character by their side. We want to build Wonderverse into a platform that can provide the best possible experience to achieve this.
We want to enable more customization and personalization possibilities for the platform, we encourage everyone who has the same vision to try out our Wonderverse and embark on this journey with us.
In the past, we only knew of a virtual companion tool which stands on the bedside, accompanying us in our sleep. Now that technology has evolved, they're now in our smartphones, ready to join us anywhere. Wonderverse is definitely not the last to bring this technology forward, but we are already expecting great things from them in the future.
Thank you to Wonders.AI CEO Michael Lin for having time to answer our questions, as well as Mariya Pallais PR for coordinating this Spotlight interview.