Baidu’s Virtual Human Paints Cat Portrait Live


Chinese tech giant Baidu showed off its virtual human Xijiajia’s artistic ability by having the digital ambassador paint a picture of a cat in front of an audience at its Baidu World conference. The demonstration succinctly highlighted the company’s work on virtual beings and visual applications of conversational AI as both fields become increasingly widespread and popular.

AI Art

Baidu focused on the many avenues where AI helps people and businesses. Xijiajia is Baidu’s digital human ambassador for making that case. The real-time painting of a cat by the AI after a single request for a cat painting revealed just how capable virtual beings could be at fulfilling a wide range of tasks, including those usually considered exclusive to human creativity. According to Baidu, AI can help the art world with other tasks besides new paintings. A virtual recreation of “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains,” one of the most famous classical Chinese paintings in history, has long been split in half and stored at two museums. Baidu’s AI helped reassemble the piece for the first time in centuries. While Xijiajia is more of an enterprise-centered creation, Baidu also unveiled an “interactive virtual idol” named DuXiaoxiao that consumers can talk to on the Baidu app on their phones. DuXiaoxiao is built to understand emotion in speech and respond accordingly

“Today, we are in the midst of a major cycle of technological development, with new technologies emerging in almost every industry, from new energy to space exploration, biomedicine, smart manufacturing, and more,” Baidu CEO Robin Li said. “China’s technological development is rising to a new position at the forefront of the world. But progress still requires relentless efforts and new paths for a better future driven by technology. Baidu aims to serve as a cornerstone of these efforts, contributing to basic research, basic technology and underlying innovation.”

Along with the more artistic and consumer-focused projects, Baidu shared the creation of what it called the first large-scale AI model specifically for aerospace research. The industrial elements extended to its new Kaiwu 2.0 platform, used by industry plan strategy, and the new autonomous Apollo RT6 car, which comes with a detachable steering wheel for drivers not actively controlling the vehicle.

Metaverse Population

Baidu didn’t dwell on the metaverse much, but there’s an obvious connection between its virtual humans and the XiRang digital world the company revealed at the end of last year. Avatars built on the XiLing platform released simultaneously will be used to fill up XiRang with digital humans in the  “Creator City” under development there. XiLing is Baidu’s platform for building digital avatars with artificial intelligence to use in various media. Baidu described it as a tool for designing the virtual spokesperson for audio and video advertisements, social media posts, and as a host. The virtual world is accessible through an app on computers and smartphones or with Pico virtual reality headsets. XiRang, which means ‘land of hope,’ can support up to 100,000 users at a time, which Baidu emphasized because its metaverse is still under development.