Accessibility is a cornerstone of our society but for many people it’s still a challenge.


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In what seems to be a world first New Zealand tech company have announced that they’ve been using Epic’s photorealistic Unreal gaming engine to create unbelievably realistic digital humans that are capable of translating a variety of languages and media types into sign language for the deaf community.


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Furthermore, it turns out that thanks to Unreal’s new MetaHuman Creator that lets developers make believable human characters in “less than an hour” their characters are about to get a huge upgrade.

The new MetaHuman Creator is like a character creator in a game, but with a much wider range of capabilities, and once that character is done being made it comes fully rigged and ready to be animated in Unreal Engine. And the results are so good that some people think it’s a little creepy.


Kara’s new technology platform


Epic released two sample characters created in MetaHuman Creator, and both of them are so realistic that it’s hard to tell that they’re not even real people.


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While games are the most likely application of the new tool Kara Technologies had other ideas for Epic’s new toy. Kara is the New Zealand-based company that developed Niki, their first digital human that can translate “a variety of media content such as video, audio, or text into a signed language.”

Niki isn’t just some avatar moving her hands, though. Niki’s facial expressions are fully animated with hundreds of micro-expressions – something that’s a really important factor when it comes to communicating with the deaf community.

It also looks like Niki might have some new competition after Kara released an updated version of its signing avatar using one of the MetaHuman models that Epic released with MetaHuman Creator, and it took less than a week for this incredible animation to be born.


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Kara hopes that MetaHumans may one day lead to an even better signing avatar than Niki that could include a fuller range of human expressions and reduce project turn-around by as much as 80% – but while that’s great the real beneficiaries of the new project will be the deaf community who all of a sudden will have access to tons of new content that companies previously didn’t provide signing services for.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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