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Radio station in Shanghai hires virtual employee as news host

August 4, 2022 8:11 am

“Chang Xiaojiao”, a digital human jointly developed by Shanghai’s Voice of the Yangtze Radio and Tencent's online intelligent video creation platform “Zhiying” (Smart Shadow), has recently been hired by the radio station after two months of probation. The station’s new host appears as a young female, with vivid features and movements powered by AI technology.

The digital employee began working for Voice of the Yangtze in May 2022, and has appeared in the radio’s science-related short video programs. According to the radio, Chang Xiaojiao has received over 3 million views since she first came online.

A screenshot of Chang Xiaojiao's first appearance on Voice of the Yangtze Radio.
A screenshot of Chang Xiaojiao's first appearance on Voice of the Yangtze Radio.

The hyper-realistic digital human is developed based on Tencent’s real-time facial action generation technology, which makes it possible to achieve a 98% similarity to real humans, according to a report by China Daily. In addition to mimicking human news hosts, Chang Xiaojiao is also capable of adapting to diverse content and employing multiple tones and dialects.

Previously, a video clip of Chang Xiaojiao challenging viewers to a tongue twister competition trended on China’s social platforms. In the video, the news host is shown reading a 24 seconds long tongue twister and jokingly advises users with low lung capacities should not attempt it.  

Unlike most of the digital humans currently popular on short video platforms, or vTubers, Chang Xiaojiao does not rely on motion capture of real humans pilots, and runs entirely on AI algorithms. Tencent’s cloud based platform supports “one-stop transformation” from text to broadcasting of up to 5,000 words, with variable speeds.

Virtual employees such as Chang would largely increase the accuracy, efficiency and production costs of audio andvideo contents such as new broadcasting. The cutting edge technology also serves as a new method for tradition media such as radio and TV to progress and attract younger viewers.