NEW YORK -- Standing in front of a large screen near the 2022 AI Summit entrance, a woman conversed with AVA, a digital avatar.
"What are you used for?" the conference attendee asked. "How are you different than Alexa? Do you use conversational AI?"
Created by Graphen Robotics, AVA is a digital human meant to mimic the human brain, according to the New York-based startup.
Graphen created the robotic human to empathize with humans.
Digital humans and avatars such as AVA have exploded in popularity recently, as excitement -- and many would say hype -- about the virtual world of the metaverse grows.
Prominent technology vendors like Nvidia have invested heavily into shaping digital avatars and making them more human-like and accessible for everyone. For example, the chip maker is trying to make creating avatars available to everyone with its Omniverse Avatar Engine.
More to be done
While enterprises are drawn to avatars and the metaverse for their potential to augment the human workforce, there is still much to do to make the technology truly "human" and usable for everyday applications.
After conversing with AVA, another conference-goer -- Kiran Sagar, head of acquisitions and pricing at Wells Fargo -- determined that while the digital avatar is quite intelligent, there are areas where it can improve.
"It's good enough," Sagar told TechTarget Editorial during an interview at the AI Summit on December 8th. "It's still struggling to explain or understand. But I think it is much smarter than how things were a couple of years ago."
Digital avatars can be valuable and make things faster and more contextual in specific work environments, she added.
"They do come with like real intelligent search," she said. "They take up a lot of cognitive overload that you would otherwise have."
Kiran SagarHead of acquisitions and pricing, Wells Fargo
While relieving humans of their cognitive responsibilities is one way avatars can be helpful for enterprises, vendors such as Graphen and Nvidia hope to go beyond that.
Avatars can become collaborators for enterprise employees who use it in the metaverse, said Richard Kerris, vice president of Omniverse platform development at Nvidia.
For example, an architect working on an innovative project could have a trained collaborative avatar that acts as a consultant in the project process, Kerris said during a panel discussion about the metaverse at the AI Summit in New York.
"Now you have a digital avatar as part of your collaboration ... that can give you all kinds of information," Kerris said. "It's a technology that can be applicable in many different ways."
Removing the overwhelming factor
Similarly, the Metaverse has potential for various enterprise applications.
"In the life science industry, there could be a lot of opportunity to [use the metaverse] to optimize training," said PJ Singh, co-founder and director of LS Client Choice, during an interview with TechTarget Editorial on December 8 at the AI Summit. LS Client Choice provides consulting services in quality, compliance, validation and technology integration to life sciences and healthcare industries.
Despite its possibilities, the various technologies linked to the metaverse can be overwhelming, particularly when they involve the sometimes disorienting virtual reality headsets, Sagar said.
"The experience you get -- being able to submerge yourself, be where you want to be and interact with people -- it's another important tool," she said.
She added that once the technology matures so headsets don't overwhelm users, it will become more valuable.