U.K.-based real-time inverse kinematics leader IKinema presented a technology demo at SIGGRAPH on Tuesday, showing virtual characters responding in real time to voice commands. The company is known in the film and games industries for high quality motion-capture solving tech and realistic procedural animation, and now sees mass-market potential for this new technology in VR and AR environments.
“Imagine a world where we can interact with virtual characters by talking to them – just like in the real world,” said chief executive Alexandre Pechev. “Real and virtual worlds are going to merge. Virtual characters will be part of everyday life. But to be credible, the virtual world needs to behave like the real world. At IKinema we are firm believers that animation needs to be procedurally generated in a very realistic way so that it is indistinguishable from the real world. Going 100% procedural is a difficult task, but a natural solution is to combine real motion with procedural adaptation, all driven by voice commands. This is project INTiMATE.”
In VR applications, INTiMATE allows the user to interact with a virtual character through vocal communication, which can be used for games or training, virtual production or storyboarding, or a VR entertainment experience. For AR, the technology can enhance interactions with virtual characters superimposed on the real world, allowing users to communicate with and demand actions from virtual pets, game heroes, personal trainers, virtual friends, etc.
Project INTiMATE’s concept was first shown a year ago, and has since been developed with backing by the U.K. government’s Innovate UK program. IKinema is seeking partners to apply the tech in a variety of sectors, and plans to make an SDK available to any animation package.