Tokyo-based EmbodyMe is known in some circles for its AI and deepfake technology, and its latest form of arguably unrealistic expression is Xpression Chat, an app that integrates photos with ChatGPT.
The basic premise is this latest app is that users can upload a photo — any photo — of whomever they want. The goal is to have lifelike conversations with anyone or any character with a face, the company explains. In effect, the app turns the photo into an avatar and gives it one of a number of human voices to make it feel like talking to the real version of that person.
The company tells PetaPixel that there are more than 50 voices (male and female) in multiple languages to choose from.
“Imagine having intimate daily chats with your favorite celebrity as if they were your beloved. Build the courage to declare your feelings to your secret love by practicing with their interactive image,” the company says. “Delve deeper into your connection with your pet, or reminisce fondly by engaging in conversation with a dearly missed grandparent.”
Anyone on an iOS or Android device can download the app, upload a photo, set up a few details, and start chatting with others using the photo as a talking avatar. This could be a current celebrity, historical figure, or even a deceased member of the family, which, admittedly, might be a little creepy but it wouldn’t be the first time.
The app is an offshoot of EmbodyMe’s Xpression Camera app, which used real-time face-filtering to take facial expressions and animate them with various cues. The company says a “vast number” of users have been using that app in meetings, live streams, and casual conversations, but did not specify how many or where it’s been most popular.
EmbodyMe also plans to pitch Xpression Chat to businesses for potential use by offering SDKs (software developer kits) for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac. The thinking is that it could be useful for virtual representatives on websites or digital signage, like getting directions in an airport or using it to communicate in multiple languages. Chatbots may also figure into certain use cases, though it’s not entirely clear how or what EmbodyMe envisions for that kind of integration.
Xpression Chat isn’t the first time we’ve seen AI used in this way. In April, a ChatGPT-powered AI named Annie was announced who would converse with users via an app. The previous month, D-ID, the company behind Deep Nostalgia, launched a beta version of an app that let users talk with photorealistic AI humans. Xpression Chat is different though, since it lets anyone talk to anyone they happen to have a photo of, which raises some ethical concerns.
Deepfakes present problems of their own, and this technology basically allows someone to fake an actual relationship with anyone they want. Beyond the obvious questions of how healthy this might be for someone’s mental state, there is a strong chance that this would be uncomfortable for a person if this is being done without their permission.
Xpression Chat is free to use, but only with a default image up to five times a day. A premium membership will include unlimited photos and chats for $7.99 per week or $79.99 for a year. There is also a lifetime subscription that costs $244.99.
Image credits: Xpression Chat