SM Entertainment Launches AI & “Metaverse” Research Project With Korea Technology Institute

As part of the endeavor, all SM artists will be getting their own AI avatars…

SM Entertainment is conducting a new research project in collaboration with one of the country’s most prestigious STEM universities, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (also known as KAIST), in order to further its goals of an AI future.

SM Entertainment has been working with artificial intelligence technology for years; back in 2017, the company first unveiled its own version of Amazon Alexa, providing AI assistant services that speak in the voices of artists like Red Velvet‘s Irene and NCT‘s Taeyong.

Holographic AI speaker featuring Red Velvet’s Wendy. | SM Entertainment

Of course, SM Entertainment’s most well-known dive into AI so far is aespa, the company’s newest girl group. Debuting in November last year, aespa combined real human members with computer-generated avatars set to be powered by artificial intelligence. Now, SM Entertainment is getting ready to deepen its AI world with new research.

Aespa | SM Entertainment

Today, company founder Lee Soo Man and the current CEO, his nephew Lee Sung Soo, participated in a ceremony commemorating a new partnership between SM Entertainment and KAIST. Inking an agreement together, SM Entertainment and KAIST will conduct an in-depth research project on the concept of the “metaverse.”

KAIST President Lee Kwang Hyung (left), Lee Soo Man (center), and Lee Sung Soo (right) | SM Entertainment

What exactly is a metaverse? A combination of the words “meta” (meaning “beyond”) and “universe,” metaverse refers in this context to a virtual world where users will interact via avatars much like aespa’s æ counterparts.

As part of the research project, SM Entertainment and KAIST will cooperate in several technological fields, including artificial intelligence, robotics, and Lee Soo Man’s concept of “culture technology.” Culture technology, which spawned the name NCT, is a system used to promote K-Pop culture across the world.

NCT | SM Entertainment

I hope the combination of SM’s cultural imagination and KAIST’s technological prowess would bear fruitful results, contributing to the growth of the entertainment and engineering technology industry

— Lee Kwang Hyung, KAIST President

Together, the agency and the institute will even co-produce digital avatars together. The eventual goal of the project will reportedly also see the creation of avatars for other SM Entertainment groups such as Red Velvet and Super Junior.

| SM Entertainment

I believe digital avatars have ushered in the era of the robots,” said Lee Soo Man in a lecture to KAIST students, adding, “Culture and science should join forces to create content that goes beyond our imagination.

Source: The Korea Times and Asia Business Daily