SoftBank Ventures Korea announced that its SB Next Media Innovation Fund has invested in ObEN, an artificial intelligence company that builds virtual identity technology for consumers.
Using ObEN, consumers can quickly create a photo-real avatar using just a selfie and short voice recording. ObEN’s proprietary AI technology then brings the avatar to life, allowing it to learn about its human counterpart, from his or her mannerisms to basic daily behaviors.
“In our search for the leading companies in the VR and AR space, we were most excited by what we saw from ObEN, specifically around the unique applications of artificial intelligence they’ve introduced,” said J.P. Lee, partner and managing director of SoftBank Ventures Korea and managing director of SB Next Media Innovation Fund. “They bring best-in-class speech, computer vision and natural language processing technology as well as a masterful team dedicated to the vision of creating personal AI for every consumer. ObEN is a pioneer in the evolution of AI and we are thrilled to announce our investment in the company.”
This funding follows ObEN’s recent $7.7 million Series A round in November 2016.
The funding from SB Next Media Innovation Fund will drive market research and outreach, and SoftBank Ventures Korea’s global network will help ObEN connect with major players in the space domestically and overseas, said Nikhil Jain, cofounder and CEO of ObEN.
“We see this strategic investment as a major stepping stone and are excited to use SB Next Media Innovation Fund’s support to expand our presence internationally,” said Jain. “ObEN is positioned to define artificial intelligence and its applications for consumers and the validation from a powerhouse like SoftBank Ventures Korea will only serve to fuel our mission. We consider ourselves fortunate to have access to their expertise, which will help accelerate our vision of enhancing the appeal of AR, VR and IoT consumer experiences across the world.”
Launched in December 2016, SB Next Media Innovation Fund is focused on investing in media content, platform and technologies that can be applied to the content business, including virtual reality and augmented reality