You load an app onto your phone, log in, answer a brief series of questions, and then it happens: you’re standing in your living room, customizing the appearance of your new virtual companion. She (or he) is immediately a considerable improvement over previous attempts at AI companion creation. A cyberpunk-styled, motion-capture created, a fully customizable virtual replica of a humanoid, this is Hybri.
Who or What is Hybri?
Hybri, branded a “digital human AI partner” by its creators, is a three-pronged approach to artificially intelligent companionship. Available as an app for Android and iOS devices, Hybri can place your chosen, customized partner in your own mixed reality living space. With the use of the Hybri headset, users can stick with MR and enjoy a more immersive experience. Alternatively, they can don a headset and move to full VR with 120° FOV, choosing to share space with their creation in one of 48 virtual environments.
The Hybri AI promises high levels of adaptability and learning capabilities in emotional, social, behavioral, and, yes, sexual contexts. With animations based on motion-captured human movement, your realistic companion will miss you when you’re away, get annoyed by your untidiness, console you when you’re feeling low, or simply take orders from you, their carbon-based god.
“I Can Be Anyone You Want”
Hand tracking and voice control provide Hybri headset users with direct means of interacting with their new virtual companion, who can be made to resemble most anyone you can picture – literally. Grab a 2D photograph and create a 3D virtual pal or fuck buddy based on whoever you want. Sure, we might all reach for a hot shot of Scarlett Johansson or Megan Fox, but what’s to stop your best friend creating a model of your mom and unleashing his sexual frustration on her ass? Hybri is amazing technology, yes, but it also reveals the complicated issues surrounding sex, AI, and MR.
Not purely for exercising prurient interests, the Hybri technology’s ability to create platonic partners, virtual friends, for users could also be used to reconnect us to lost loved ones. The ability to take a 2D photograph and create a virtual embodiment of that person with fully customizable character traits does pose some ethical questions.
Is it right to recreate a former lover and recreate your most thrilling experiences together in VR? Should we be bringing deceased family members back to help our grieving process, as South Korean broadcaster MBC recently helped one bereaved mother do, the process captured in a moving documentary? (Caution: grab the Kleenex before clicking. No, no – for tears!)
The Future’s Still Forthcoming
Already a fully functional prototype, Hybri aims to start the final leg of its funding journey on Kickstarter in March 2020. Showcasing to investors its six character range of default companions – three female, three male; some more realistically humanoid than others – Hybri offers advance subscriptions ($49) to its Android and iOS apps, as well as the official Hybri headset ($199) which brings hand and eye-tracking to users toolkits. Whether or not Hybri will see rampant, rapid adoption remains to be seen. What is almost certain, however, is that the mere existence of Hybri will push adult developers to not only embrace MR creation but to deliver continually evolving advanced interactivity. That is, after all, what makes or breaks any relationship, real, virtual, or mixed.