Screenshot from Goodgang Labs' website

GoodGang Labs forges human-AI persona in avatar-based social platform

The startup plans to expand globally in 2025 after kick starting its platform in Korea and Japan.

To people who live and thrive in social media to no end, here’s an alternative universe where artificial intelligence (AI) begins to prove its boundless nature: Kikiz. Imagine spending a whole day talking to your AI friend, about anything from a simple chit-chat to your deepest thoughts.

This is what GoodGang Labs is presenting in Kikiz, a 3D AI avatar platform where AI capabilitiese are maximized by visualizing AI chatbots with high-quality chatbot-ready avatars and bringing AI companions to life, allowing people to chat and connect with them.

“Our vision is to build a world where AI chatbots are more than just tools — they are friends that enhance and enrich our lives,” Dookyung Ahn, co-founder and CEO of GoodGang Labs, told Singapore Business Review.

Kiki Town uses cutting-edge technology that produces elaborate human facial expressions, lip-sync, and body gestures, addressing its users’ emotional needs.
“We revolutionise communication with AI to be more natural and expressive, bridging the gap between human and AI,” Ahn said.

“[It is] powered by our innovative Text-to-Speech and Motion Avatar technology, to enable anyone to create, interact with, and share AI friends,” he added.

Ahn believes that this idea fosters the dynamic of AI and human interaction whilst also severing the digital divide caused by the limitations of text-based communication platforms.

“With the dawn of the AI era, the use of AI chatbots is skyrocketing, their roles evolving from simple productivity tools to ambitious companion AI with vast potential. However, most chatbots remain text-based, lacking non-verbal cues like vision, hindering natural human-AI interaction,” Ahn explained.

“AI is being developed very quickly, and [it] changed the world entirely. So, the opportunity we saw is, currently [when people are] talking with AI, the main interface is a chatbot and their communication medium is text. But we believe that their communication medium [has] evolved from text to voice, and lastly, to 3D avatars,” he added.

GoodGang Labs works on prioritising human-centered communication interface, making AI chatbots accessible and meaningful for users.

“Our team, bringing diverse expertise from Meta, Google, Line, and Snow, is dedicated to transforming AI communication, ensuring it's as intuitive and effortless as everyday human interaction,” he said.

Explaining the technicalities, Ahn said that "our platform fosters more natural and engaging communication, paving the way for deeper connections that address people's emotional needs."

“Kikiz further empowers anyone, regardless of technical skills and expertise, to create and share their own unique avatar friends (companion). These avatars can be integrated into communities and even monetized on on the platform through avatar marketplace and reward programs for creator economy, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of creativity and collaboration,” he added.

From a vision to ambition

GoodGang Labs saw the opportunity of AI avatar as companion AI has been rapidly growing with vast potential. However, most chatbots remain text-based, lacking non-verbal cues like vision, hindering natural human-AI interaction, thus limiting their role as assistants for productivity tasks.

Dookyung Ahn, co-founder and CEO of GoodGang Labs

Ahn underscored the efforts that bring their vision to life, “even though applying 3D avatars is an essential next step to make AI chatbots more natural, engaging and comfortable, designing high-quality 3D avatars in a both efficient and elaborate manner poses a significant challenge:

“Furthermore, expressing and animating facial expressions, lip-sync, and body-gestures naturally in real-time through these avatars adds another layer of difficulty,” he added.

Nonetheless, GoodGang Labs boasts an “unmatched avatar creation” for Kikiz, “our expertise lies in crafting aesthetically captivating chatbot-ready 3D avatars that resonate with users,” Ahn underscored.

The startup also prides itself on their team’s proven track record with industry experience, “with seasoned industry professionals from Meta and Line, we understand the nuances of successful avatar design.”

“With unparalleled skill in blendshapes and animations, we bring avatars to life with nuanced emotions and gestures,” he added. “We [also] focus on versatile avatars that seamlessly integrate across different platforms such as iOS, Web, and Unity, maximizing reach and accessibility.”

Its cutting-edge text to speech and motion avatar technology proves to be the most pivotal part of this innovation, enabling real-time 3D avatar animations, seamlessly converted from text or voice.

Ahn added, “we provide an environment that facilitates easy setup and service of various Large Language Models and voice solutions [to enrich the] avatar’s capabilities.”

The potential of Kikiz extends across diverse industries, from gaming, education to counseling and even relationship support. Imagine an empathetic daily companion for lonely seniors or personalized one-on-one education for children – the possibilities are truly boundless.

By prioritizing a human-centered communication interface, GoodGang Labs strives to make AI technology accessible and meaningful for everyone like real-life friends. 

Future innovations

Supported by prominent industry players such as Naver and Kakao, the tech startup boasts over US$3m in cash reserves, primarily used for developing Kikiz.

In addition to developing Kikiz, GoodGang Labs is also allocating funds towards talent recruitment and R&D expenditures to advance and refine their technology.

“We are preparing to attract additional investments in the latter half of 2024 to expedite our global business expansion, including initiatives such as establishing local branches, bolstering our marketing efforts, and more,” Ahn said.

“We plan to launch KiKiz in Korea in the first quarter of 2024 as a key market and cultural testbed. Following successful early adoption in Korea, we’ll spearhead our entry into Japan in the latter half of 2024,” he said.

This strategic entry to tech-savvy nations will enable GoodGang Labs to collect valuable insights to refine their technology before expanding globally in 2025.

“Japanese and Korean users will be among the first to experience the power of our AI Avatars, bringing communication to life in unprecedented ways.”

In the process of their global expansion focusing on the US market, Ahn said: “We plan to partner with various players globally, sharing our vision of revolutionizing communication with like-minded companies and individuals.”

He added that in five years’ time, the global AI chatbot market is estimated to reach US$15.5m with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24%.

“We believe that avatars will eventually be adopted by the entire AI chatbot market, making it the avatar chatbot market. As the leading player in the AI avatar chatbot market, we expect to capture over 50% of the market share, which would lead to estimated revenue of over US$7.7 billion by 2028,” Ahn said.

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