After months of teasers, Samsung-backed company Star Labs (yes, just like the research facility in Superman comics) launched an intriguing new type of product: a virtual human being called Neon.
Unveiled at CES on Monday, Neon is "visually real" and has the ability to "show emotions and intelligence," claims the company. It can "connect and learn more about us, gain new skills, and evolve."
I bet all of this still doesn't tell you what Neon really is, and Star Labs doesn't help matters much with its fairly broad descriptions. It's "not an AI assistant," but "simply, a friend."
Judging by the photos and videos showcasing the technology, Neon appears to be an advanced chatbot attached to a lifelike digital avatar. Its purpose isn't exactly known yet, and — despite the promo materials showing very lifelike avatars — neither is its appearance.
It's all based on the company's Core R3 tech, which offers law latency (less than a few microseconds) responses to human queries, described as "lifelike" and "indistinguishable" from reality. According to Star Labs CEO Pranav Mistry, Core R3 can "autonomously create new expressions, new movements, new dialog (even in Hindi), completely different from the original captured data."
Your new pals. Image: Star Labs
Despite the company's somewhat confusing lingo, it appears that it's set to create something we've seen in basically every 1980s sci-fi movie — a talking, human-looking avatar that could look like anyone (Neons are actually computer-generated and their looks aren't based on real people, though they could be) and greet you at an airport or tell you the news. It's nice, but we need to see more.