British tech startup Synthesia has unveiled a new range of AI-generated avatars that can convey emotions such as happiness, sadness and frustration.


Nvidia-backed artificial intelligence firm Synthesia on Thursday unveiled a new wave of artificial intelligence-generated digital avatars that can convey human emotions using user-input text.

The company said its “Expressive Avatars” can blur the lines between the virtual world and real characters. It aims to eliminate cameras, microphones, actors, long edits and other costs from the professional video production process. Synthesia has a studio in London where actors read scripts in front of a green screen to train the system.

In one demo, the company showed three lines of text embedded into its platform — “I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m disappointed” – after which the AI-generated actor in the video responded by reading the text in the tone of each corresponding emotion.

The company’s technology is used by more than 55,000 businesses, including half of the Fortune 100, to create digital avatars for corporate presentations and training videos, according to Synthesia.

Founded in 2017, Synthesia raised $90 million from investors last year at a valuation of around $1 billion, making it one of Britain’s newest AI unicorn firms. Accel, Kleiner Perkins, GV, FirstMark Capital and MMC are also shareholders.

The company responded to concerns about how its videos could be used to create fake news content by saying publishers must sign up as enterprise customers to make synthetic avatars. Content created with its technology is moderated.

Synthesia does not publicly disclose pricing for its corporate customers.

The company also requires all of its new customers to go through a thorough “Know Your Customer” process similar to that used in the banking industry, which helps prevent bad actors from creating fake company profiles to spread misinformation.

Synthesia said it is already preparing for the upcoming global elections and has implemented a range of controls to ensure its platform is not abused by hostile actors seeking to manipulate the results of various votes.

The company is also part of the Content Provenance and Authenticity Coalition, an organization of AI companies that aims to implement content identifiers and digital “watermarks” of AI-generated content to ensure viewers know that what they are looking at is made by an artificial intelligence, not a human.