Seated in a restaurant, you take a selfie. How would you like a chance to post it along with an animated avatar—which can be customised—and share it through different social media platforms? Bengaluru-based startup Mobigraph finds huge potential in such a project. Commenced by ex-Samsung R&D technologists, the aim of the company is to help people express and emote better in all forms of digital communication. There are hundreds of avatars to choose from, that can be customised as per the user's choice.
“Currently, digital communication is emotionally bankrupt, depending predominantly on yellow-faced smilies or some static stickers. However in real life communication, body language and facial expression play a very important role. These are called non-verbal cues, and according to studies, they play upto 80 per cent role in conveying meaning and emotion. They are not present in today's digital communication which is predominantly textual,” Siddhartha Vinnakote, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Mobigraph, told THE WEEK.
In order to meet the requirement of better expression, his company helps users easily create digital 3D avatars on their mobile phones. “This avatar can then be used in 300-plus animations, which can then be personalised with user text in any language. This avatar can be edited any number of times with the latest trending fashion outfits. Users can then export these animations with their avatar, text, and share across any social platform. We are currently beta testing our new technology where we create a 3D avatar from user selfie. We believe this will push the limits of personalisation further,” he said.
Interestingly, the company has a smartphone app known as XPRESSO, with around 6 lakh users worldwide, and 12 million customised gifs shared every month. “Majority of our users are in the age group of 18-24, and we have most active users from USA, Latin America (Mexico, Brazil) and South East Asia (Thailand, Philippines). It is catching up in India too. We believe that this is the target user base, because this demography is generally the early adopters of any new technology, and are looking more and more options for self-expression."
The company has also won a US patent for the technology featuring runtime personalisation of animations with the 3D avatar, user text, themes and the option to share them at the click of a button. Their business is simple, as they charge users for animations, developers for using the API, and pay artists for creating the animations. Apart from charging the end users, the real time customisation functionality is exposed as open API (Application Program Interface) to all developers. Using the API, developers can develop new apps or update existing apps with these features. These API, once they reach a certain volume, are charged.
The company is also in talks with some leading handset manufacturers and keyboard companies to integrate and provide personalised emojis to their users. The company is also aiming to leverage the blockchain technology. “We are now looking to leverage the power of blockchain technology to create a decentralised ecosystem for personalised emotions called PEP network (Personalised Expression Platform). Through ethereum-based blockchain, we will allow artists to create animations, and users to directly buy from the artists with near-zero commissions. We also plan to use the enormous computing power of the block chain. It will help cut our cost to run the technology, making the API subscription much cheaper for the developer,” added Vinnakote.