Didimo is the world’s leading B2B provider of automated solutions for the generation of realistic digital human avatars. Derived from the Greek word for ‘twin’, Didimo is certainly a fitting name for their ultimate goal – creating life-like digital twins for anyone wanting to engage more personally in the digital world.
At The Metaverse Insider, we had the pleasure of interviewing Veronica Orvalho, the Founder & CEO of Didimo and Research Professor at the University of Porto. With five years of experience at the technology company IBM, an MSc in video game design and development, and a Ph.D. in computer graphics, we jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Veronica’s journey with Didimo – and what it means for the Metaverse.
From how avatars were being created in 2006, Veronica pointed out the many flaws in the traditional approaches to creating digital assets – leading to her Ph.D. which ultimately helped automate the process:
“Creating digital characters was very, very cumbersome and super expensive, requiring a ton of artist engineers. I have seen how the traditional way of creating digital assets was very time-consuming.”
By creating the animation control system, Veronica could automate the character creation process for films and games. However, whilst doing R&D at the University of Porto, a greater emphasis was made on creating digital humans for other purposes. Thus, the seed for what would become Didimo was sowed:
“One of the most amazing projects was one that we did for kids with autism. We created a system that mimics facial expressions to digital characters. So, kids could learn how to communicate better with their friends and families. And that was very innovative. And it worked really, really well.”
Following an opportunity to test the technology with Amazon, and getting accepted at Techstars in London, Didimo was born. It is easy to say that digital avatar creation through Didimo is a much more efficient process than before; from taking days for an expert to create one, Didimo’s tech demo can take minutes to produce a fully rigged character from a simple selfie:
“You can just use it, take the file, and just pretty much use it anywhere. It should be that easy. We’re going to integrate with other companies so they can leverage their own user experience to build the overall user experiences.”
By facilitating the creation of digital avatars through their API, Didimo presents a seemingly frictionless process for anyone wishing to integrate this into their pipeline. This could significantly impact avatar creation in the Metaverse – giving people the ability to mirror themselves in the virtual world.
Didimo has already demonstrated its potential with many companies currently engaged or demonstrating active interest:
“One company that was amazing to work with was Sony. We were building the engine while working with them, and they integrated our digital human technology, or the API into their mobile phones. So, through their Sony experience, you can actually create a digital character, and then you can use it everywhere.”
Alongside collaborations with current tech giants, Didimo has also worked with more recent companies like Ceek VR – which specialize in immersive Metaverse VR experiences. Didimo has enabled the possibility for realistic digital avatars to be automatically ported into these immersive experiences – taking digital avatar creation to a whole new level.
Didimo was designed to work on any platform or game engine, with support for standard industry tools like Mixamo, Daz3D, Amazon Polly, ARKit, and Azure Cognitive Services. By creating the technology and engine, any platform can use Didimo’s avatars if they support the standard files.
There are currently many platforms available for digital avatar creation, however, none of them match the realism of Didimo. Many individuals utilize their avatars to represent their online presence – and an alien may not always be the preference.
Concerning the wider Metaverse experience, we were curious to understand Veronica’s perspective on how this technology will impact the future of the Metaverse:
“I always felt there is something really important that is missing on the internet – authenticity. So, the only way you can actually push for authenticity is if YOU are being represented as an extension of yourself, in some way shape, or form.”
Didimo plan to take this further by launching an asset feature – enabling greater personalization of your digital avatar:
“That means that you create the digital asset, and put any other additional assets on top. Like a Mexican mask, or you can add specific makeup effects or any type of additional assets to your body.”
“I think more and more that users and gamers will become content creators. So, the question is, how can we give those future content creators the ability to think outside of the box and create, in this case, digital characters that they can customize… making them speak, move and represent themselves in an extended way.”
The potential applications of this technology span beyond gaming; with a growing team of 23 individuals, Veronica and her team want to make Didimo an easy destination for any company that requires digital character creation. By giving clients the API, they can save time and money – simultaneously building their own experiences.
As the Metaverse is fast becoming a mainstream sensation, there is a great need for digital avatars in all aspects of the Metaverse; this will entail everything from the entertainment industry to the education industry. As education is Veronica’s true passion, she expressed her vision for the future of Didimo:
“When we created Didimo, based on the project on autism that I mentioned before, the whole idea is to eventually have a system that you can teach 24/7 to anyone in the world. I think this is where the technology will really make a difference – in the space of education and health care.”
Veronica is truly a sincere, and passionate individual with prospects to break down the barriers of education through technology. Didimo was founded in 2016, and Veronica’s drive with Didimo has already landed her partnerships with major tech firms like Amazon and Sony.
Having also launched a project called Paper Wings, she aims to bridge the gap between learning, university, and industry – making education more accessible to all.
Everything Veronica and Didimo stand for portrays a bright future for the Metaverse; digital avatars will be pivotal in the adoption of such a revolutionary concept. Be sure to keep an eye out for this prolific company and CEO, they have only just begun.
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