The new face of skincare brand SK-II is YUMI, a digital avatar

SK-II YUMI

The new face of P&G’s skincare brand SK-II is an autonomously animated digital avatar named YUMI.

SK-II, which is based in Japan, announced at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that it will be partnering with AI tech company Soul Machines to create YUMI, who will interact with consumers and provide beauty and skincare advice.

According to a press release, “YUMI is an integral part of SK-II’s ongoing transformation journey to connect with a new generation of consumers who are yearning for more meaningful experiences with the brands they know and trust.” YUMI can interact much like a human would and will not only provide beauty advice but also help consumers better understand their skin and “guide them on their journey to skin transformation with PITERA Essence” (PITERA is the yeast-derived ingredient upon which the SK-II line is based).

Soul Machines is a high-tech company of AI researchers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and artists re-imagining how people connect with machines. The company creates lifelike, emotionally responsive, artificial humans with personality and character that allow machines to talk to us face-to-face. Soul Machines’ vision is to “humanize artificial intelligence to better humanity.” The company has created digital humans for Autodesk, Mercedes Benz, and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“We are thrilled to work with innovative companies and brands like Procter & Gamble and SK-II, who are embracing technology to humanize brands at scale,” said Greg Cross, co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Soul Machines. “YUMI will become a trusted resource to those who interact with her. Customers will immediately notice how easy the Soul Machines digital humans are to converse with and relate to once they spend time interacting with YUMI.”

Sandeep Seth, SK-II’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “YUMI is more than a digital influencer. She is a digital human capable of interacting and engaging in ways technology hasn’t been able to do until now.

“YUMI personifies our goal to combine technology and creativity to benefit customers. She provides the warmth and connection of human touch in the form of a digital experience to make the overall skincare experience at home and in store more enjoyable and compelling. We’re looking forward to customers being able to turn to her for skincare and beauty questions at any time of the day or night.”

According to Fast Company, YUMI is based on a real person, but SK-II has not provided details about that person. Soul Machines could reportedly have built a digital human entirely from scratch, but there was concern that she might not feel authentic.

“We wanted to make Yumi as lifelike as possible,” Fast Company quotes Sandeep Seth as saying. While she is starting out based on someone else, YUMI will develop her own personality and movements over time.

YUMI isn’t the first digital influencer. You might already be familiar with Lil Miquela and Shudu. Both of these are digital creations with 1.6 million and 177,000 Instagram followers, respectively.

Will advances in technology never cease?

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