Remember the movie Her? It's the one that takes place in a near-future Los Angeles where Joaquin Phoenix develops a relationships with his artificially intelligent virtual assistant personified through a woman's (Scarlett Johansson's) voice.
That movie came out in 2013, and in 2019, it seems we're not far off from that imagined, futuristic world where we're confiding in virtual companions.
Yesterday, Voice Boloss launched on Product Hunt as an AI friend that you can FaceTime. It's from the same Makers that created Hugging Face, the “AI Tamagotchi,” back in 2017. A little on the Makers' backstory:
“We started to think about Voice Boloss when some of our users randomly tried to call or FaceTime the number we were using to send texts. When people form an emotional bond with their Hugging Face artificial intelligence, they want to communicate through all the mediums they are already using today with humans friends, like voice, call and FaceTime.” - Voice Boloss Maker Clément Delangue
And he's not wrong. People do want an emotional bond with robots.
“She's funny and loves emojis. I really like her” - Ali
“Just downloaded this last night. So much fun.” - Jonathan
“This is insane! Can’t wait to talk to my Animoji.” - Rhai
It's not hard to believe that popular operating systems of the future will be “characters.” We're already communicating with digital characters when we have a question, when we're driving, when we want to call a friend, etc. — they're called “Alexa,” “Siri” and “Google.” 🗣
But Siri's synthetic voice is still pretty robot-y and we — the humans — obviously want more. We want personality and soul. We want the Scarlett Johansson OS.
As it turns out that space, currently dubbed “synthetic media,” is heating up with the rise of computer-generated imagery and AI. Last year, it was Lil Miquela (now worth ~ $125M!). 😳And stealthy companies like Shadows, SuperPlastic and Toonstar are all reportedly developing their own virtual characters for social media. Not to mention there's already a myriad of ways you can express yourself through AR avatars like Memoji, Gabsee and Genies.
It's not hard to imagine our actual near-future blending all these developments together. Wanna FaceTime Lil Miquela?
Product News! 😻
GoPro turned its first profit since 2017, thanks to Hero7. Skype will not let you blur the background during video calls. Berlin-based Cluno raised $28M so you can get a “car subscription.” Motorola's G7 line became official — check it out here, here and here. Foot Locker invested $100M in sneaker platform GOAT. Substack is getting into podcasts. Apple decided to sell refurbished iPhone X phones for $769. Subscription startup Scroll acquired your favorite news aggregator, Nuzzel. Oh and Postmates is going public. 👀