Tuesday, January 16, 2024

First Look at EmulateMe: Creating an AI Avatar and Short Audios/Videos

 I was intrigued by the EmulateMe (www.emulateme.ai) feature that I saw on Facebook in the Genealogy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) group.  Here is a screen capture of the top of the home page:

The text says:

"Chat with your ancestors.  Explore your family roots like never before.  Link your family tree and ask anything to your ancestors.  Receive their responses in text, audio, and video formats."

There are links on the top of the page for "How it works," "FAQs," "Log in" and "Sign up."

Here is the short introductory video from YouTube:

This concept is very intriguing!  Can my friends and family chat with me, or one of my ancestors, or even a famous person?  YES!!!!  

"Owners" (my term) can create an avatar with a full-face photograph, a voice sample using predetermined text, and a biographical document of some sort (TXT or PDF file upload, or a FamilySearch Family Tree document or life story).  Creators need to have an account with EmulateMe.

"Chatters" can ask questions of the avatar if they have registered on EmulateMe and have a Chat link to my EmulateMe account.

I couldn't resist trying this out.  My grandchildren want to see video, not plain text or static photographs.  So my first Avatar will be ME - Randy Seaver, father, grandfather, genealogist, blogger, a pretty boring guy in person and text.

I created an account, and tried to follow the directions to create the avatar - it was stop and go for awhile.  It took awhile for me to find a suitable full-face photograph - most of the photos I have of myself are with other people or are have a small number of pixels.  I found a decent one from 2016 where I don't look too old and decrepit.  I read the predetermined text and the system recorded my voice.  I have been updating my autobiography in the past months, and now have 20 pages about my life, my family, my work, my hobbies, my sports, and my ancestry.  So I uploaded a PDF of that document.

For "Owners," the free account has a limited number of "credits" for text, audio or video.  A text question and text answer costs only one credit.  Each text question costs a number of credits for audio or video, depending on how long the answer is.

Then it was time to ask myself a question.  I asked "What famous or infamous ancestors are you related to?"  The system used their AI engine to create a paragraph (shown in blue below):

Video and Audio costs two credits for this question because it is 29 seconds long when spoken.  I chose the "Video" button for this answer.  Here is a screen capture on the website:

I can use the "Share" button on the video to share it to Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp, or I can download to my computer as an MP4 file, or copy it to the Windows clipboard.  On the three-dot icon on the lower right of the video, I can download the video to my computer.  
You can watch the resulting video below, which cost me 2 credits, below:

It's my face and mouth moving (not exactly like real life, but close!), my voice speaking, based on the Artificial Intelligence interpretation of the words I have in my biography (plus a closing sentence that is not in my biography).  The video is 29 seconds long.  A video that is 40 to 50 seconds long costs 3 credits.

The "Owner" can also create an audio version of the answer using credits.  I have created several more videos and some audio readings too, but the videos are relatively large for this format on Blogger so I won't upload more at this time for your enjoyment (or hilarity).  Maybe later!  

At this time, I cannot "Share" the videos directly to Facebook - EmulateMe says they are working on that.  But I did share one or two by uploading the video that I saved to my computer.  

If you want to be a "Chatter" and ask my avatar a question, you will have to register for an account on EmulateMe.  You will receive a limited number of free credits - 5 text, 3 audio, and 1 video credit.  Use this link:  https://app.emulateme.ai/conversation/65949fa704cf93e9ee3274b8 .
Type your question in the bottom of the screen.

I wondered what this would cost as a monthly subscription.  The "Sign up" page has this:

There are four plans, ranging from $5/month (text and audio credits only) to $33 per month, billed quarterly.  Your choice.  EmulateMe told me via email that:  

"The user pays for the pack of credits to interact with an Emulation, one that they created or a public emulation. That's why the price is not based on the creation but the interaction with the information (emulations)."

What about privacy and security?  EmulateMe told me in email that 

"People have to sign up to access the chat for security reasons. When they do so, they will be able to chat with you and generate videos based on the answers. 

"When an Emulation Owner publishes the chat link, and shares it, they are accepting that anyone with the link could access the chat: ask anything, and create videos/voice clips based on the answers. 

What about accuracy of the text? EmulateMe told me in email that 

"This is generated ONLY with the info/docs that you upload. There could be some different words or terms, based on what the neural network creates, but the meaning or the core of the answer shouldn't show a big difference."

You can read more questions and answers in the FAQs on the home page -   https://www.emulateme.ai/faqs.

What about a historical person - someone no longer alive for whom I have a photograph and a biography, but no voice?  The "Owner" can create a new Emulation for that person, upload a photo and a biography, and then use one of several available male or female voice recordings and that will be available on the EmulateMe site.  The "Owner" can also link an Emulation to a person on FamilySearch Family Tree and use the Memories, Details and Life Story connected to the historical person.  I'm working on doing this and will put it in a separate blog post.  

I am told that EmulateMe will have a demonstration display at RootsTech 2024.

What do you think?  Is this something that you would consider doing so you can pass on your image and voice and memories to your friends and family?  


DISCLOSURE:  I have been using free credits offered me by EmulateMe in order to learn about their product and demonstrate how to use it.  I have not subscribed to EmulateMe yet but I am considering it. 

Copyright (c) 2024, Randall J. Seaver

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CrookedBranches said...

Randy, Really well-done blog on this new technology. To be honest, I'd be really worried about giving a company my likeness (I know they can easily get that elsewhere if they'd like), connected to my voice and then a ton of info about my family. That seems like broadly opening yourself up to deep fakes. Let's see how this plays out. Thx

Randy Seaver said...

Thanks, CB. I had the same concerns as did my daughters and some friends that I showed the technology.

I figured my photo and my stories were already out there after 18 years of blogging, so why not add my voice too. I thought my daughters an grandkids might be interested in hearing me for olde times sake in the future. I have no recordings of my parents or grandparents.

With EmulateMe, the users who want information or to see/hear me talk will have to pay for the access. I can't imagine anyone else will care.

I didn't put any political, business or social opinions in the document so, hopefully, nobody will want to ask me to say something offensive or stupid. They would have to upload another document to my EmulateMe account to do that.