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Digital doppelgangers now a reality

14th March 2019

Creating your true digital twin is now possible and will provide a groundbreaking 3D future for the entertainment, gaming, tourism and telecommunication industries, says a global expert on computational photography and computer vision.

Professor Jingyi Yu, of ShanghaiTech University and DGene, uses a combination of light field acquisition and reconstruction technology to generate an exact 3D digital replica of a person.

He has been studying and developing Augmented and Virtual Reality technology for 20 years and will be presenting at New Zealand’s AI Day 2019 conference in Auckland on 27-28 March.

Light field technology works by capturing all light emitting from an object, such as a person, in place of 2D images. Then using advanced machine learning and image processing technology, Dr. Yu and his team can recover ultra high resolution and super realistic dynamic human models from their real twins, in real time.

While seemingly futuristic the technology is expected to become commonplace within a few years, replacing 2D imagery with 3D for most digital communications.

Dr Yu says the potential is huge for areas such as events and venues, as well as uses for remote education and medicine, and virtual tourism.

“We have lived in a 2D image world for decades but we are close to when 3D imaging will become normal, and bring a new dimension and more reality to our digital experience,” he says.

The light field technology’s first foray into practical use came when it was used to show products on e-commerce sites. This enables a product to be shown in 3D, such as a bottle of perfume, with the ability to rotate it as if you were picking it up off a shelf in a shop.

“From these small beginnings the technology has grown to encompass both medium and large scale applications,” he says.

“We can now capture all aspects of a person’s appearance automatically including skin reflection, light, depth, colour, clothing textures and aspect, to provide an ultra-realistic and finely detailed reproduction of anyone in real time. We can now all have a ‘digital twin’.

“A larger scale use would be for a live broadcast and using it for 360 degree and 3D imaging - people will never miss a single angle and even freeze any moment and replay. The personal TMO is not far away, which may solve some discussions about the referee’s decision,” he says.

All of this is possible using current broadband speeds, which will accelerate and improve once 5G arrives.

The exact replica imaging is the result of multiple cameras, up to 80 being used, to capture constant images of every angle that are then reconstructed in 3D instantly. The technology is powered by accelerated computer and algorithm speeds.

Ben Reid, Executive Director of the AI Forum of New Zealand, says this is an incredible example of visual technology enabled by and working with Artificial Intelligence:

“The recent advances in machine learning technology are enabling the rapid development of these new augmented reality capabilities. We are all getting used to images of ‘virtual humans’ that are realistic, but you can still see they are computer generated. But with this technology you won’t be able to tell the difference. Managed correctly, this will open up enormous potential in any industry or service where digital communication plays a role, and increasingly this is just about everywhere,” he says.

“We are delighted to have such an international expert as Jingyi Yu with us for AI Day to bring us a fascinating snapshot of what has already been two decades of groundbreaking innovation.

“China is one of the world’s leading centres of AI investment and it is essential that New Zealand’s AI innovators build strong and lasting links with the Chinese AI market.”

Prof Yu’s visit is supported by Asia New Zealand Foundation, New Zealand’s leading authority on Asia which provides experiences and resources to help New Zealanders build their knowledge, skills and confidence to thrive in Asia.

AI Day 2019 is a two day conference held in Auckland and NZ’s premier event about Artificial Intelligence.

It starts at 4.00pm on Wednesday 27th March with a showcase day/night programme of international speakers from the US and China, as well as Kiwi trailblazers, discussing conversational AI, the future of natural language processing and AI design.

March 28th will be a full day of back-to-back revelation about the impact of AI on people, business and society, running through to the finale networking party at 5.30pm.

The conference will be followed by seven workshops at AUT on 3-4 April, giving attendees the chance to dive deep into demonstrations, case studies and detailed discussion, and a hackfest on 6-7 April where 25 teams will develop and pitch “AI for Earth” concepts.

For a full schedule and tickets to attend AI Day 2019 go to


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