Conversational AI

Building Lifelike Digital Avatars with NVIDIA ACE Microservices

Still image from Kairos demo, of an NPC at a bar.

Generative AI technologies are revolutionizing how games are produced and played. Game developers are exploring how these technologies can accelerate their content pipelines and provide new gameplay experiences previously thought impossible. One area of focus, digital avatars, will have a transformative impact on how gamers will interact with non-playable characters (NPCs).

Historically, NPCs have predetermined responses and facial animations, where players can only communicate within a limited set of options. These player interactions tend to be transactional, short-lived, and oftentimes skipped. 

However, with NVIDIA Avatar Cloud Engine (ACE), middleware, tool, and game developers can take four state-of-the-art AI models and implement them into an end-to-end digital avatar solution. The ACE models use a flexible combination of local and cloud resources that transform gamer input into a dynamic character response. The models include the following:

NVIDIA announced that the A2F and Riva ASR microservices are now available for middleware, tool, and game developers looking to enhance game studio NPCs.

Announcement slide for Audio2Face and Riva ASR with simplified diagrams showing how audio input is transformed into a visual character speaking and transcribed text, respectively.
Figure 1. New NVIDIA ACE microservices

Explore microservices through NVIDIA AI Foundry

If you have an NVIDIA AI Enterprise license, you can access the microservices now and then deploy them on DGX Cloud or any CSP or private cloud. 

The A2F microservice now has emotional support and quality improvements including lip sync. NVIDIA Riva ASR supports more languages than ever—Italian, EU Spanish, German, and Mandarin—with the overall accuracy being much improved.

Later this month, you can go to NVIDIA AI Foundation Models to explore, experience, and evaluate these available AI models directly from a browser or through API endpoints running a fully accelerated stack. You can deploy anywhere with NVIDIA AI Enterprise. 

Kairos demo evolves with new technologies from Convai

In collaboration with Convai, NVIDIA showed the latest version of the Kairos demo to showcase how next-generation AI NPCs will revolutionize gaming. Convai is an NPC developer platform that makes it easy for you to enable characters in 3D worlds to have human-like conversation, perception, and action abilities.

“Generative-AI-powered characters in virtual worlds unlock various use cases and experiences that were previously impossible. Convai is leveraging Riva ASR and A2F to enable lifelike non-playable characters (NPC) with low latency response times and high fidelity natural animation,” said Purnendu Mukherjee, founder and CEO at Convai.

Open-ended conversations with NPCs open up a world of possibilities for interactivity in games. However, conversations should have consequences that could lead to potential actions. To carry out actions from NPCs, they must be aware of the world around them and be able to interact dynamically. 

With our partner Convai and their latest releases, we take our collaborative demo to the next level, enabling these AI NPCs with the following new features:

  • Spatial awareness: Enables game characters to interact and describe the world throughout conversations. 
  • Actions: Enables game characters to interact with items in the game world based on the conversation, for example, delivering a bottle of sake when requested.
  • NPC-to-NPC Interaction: Enables game characters to have generated conversations without the player’s interaction. 

Convai has integrated the new NVIDIA ACE microservices, Audio2Face and Riva ASR. Game characters now get improved lip sync, better expression, and accurate speech detection when listening to the player.

Diagram shows Convai character API workflow with NVIDIA microservices and the Convai Universal Engine plugin.
Figure 2. NVIDIA ACE in the Convai pipeline

Here’s a look at the new Kairos demo. 

Video 1. Kairos Demo

Convai is working closely with NVIDIA to deliver the next generation of AI-powered digital characters. For more information about getting started with their platform, see Playground Walkthrough

Top digital avatar developers embrace NVIDIA ACE

NVIDIA is working with top developers in the gaming ecosystem to create digital avatars that use ACE technologies, including Charisma.AI, Inworld, miHoYo, NetEase Games, OurPalm, Tencent, Ubisoft, and UneeQ.

“This is a milestone moment for AI in games,” said Tencent Games. “NVIDIA ACE and Tencent Games will help lay the foundation that will bring digital avatars with individual, lifelike personalities and interactions to video games.”

“For years NVIDIA has been the pied piper of gaming technologies, delivering new and innovative ways to create games. NVIDIA is making games more intelligent and playable through the adoption of gaming AI technologies, which ultimately creates a more immersive experience,” said Zhipeng Hu, senior vice president of NetEase and head of the LeiHuo business group.

Learn more about the NVIDIA Audio2Face and NVIDIA Riva ASR microservices, explore the technologies on NVIDIA AI Foundation Models, and deploy anywhere with NVIDIA AI Enterprise to begin integrating intelligent NPCs into your solutions today.

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