SM Entertainment, KAIST to explore 'metaverse' together

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SM Entertainment, KAIST to explore 'metaverse' together

From left, KAIST President Lee Kwang-hyun, SM Entertainment, CEO Lee Sung-soo and founder Lee Soo-man pose for a photo at KAIST, Thursday. [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

From left, KAIST President Lee Kwang-hyun, SM Entertainment, CEO Lee Sung-soo and founder Lee Soo-man pose for a photo at KAIST, Thursday. [SM ENTERTAINMENT]

Korea's leading K-pop company, SM Entertainment, and KAIST joined forces to incorporate “metaverse” technology in music performances.  
 
In the IT industry, metaverse refers to a virtual world where users can exist as avatars and engage in various activities in an online community.  
 
Under a memorandum of understanding signed Thursday, the company and university will focus on developing technology for “metaverse” concerts attended by avatars.
 
The coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures have sparked efforts in the entertainment industry to develop concerts and performances online. KAIST suggested that the metaverse could provide the ultimate experience for online concerts by combining technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), 3-D visuals as well as virtual and augmented reality.
 
A state-owned research university specializing in science and engineering, KAIST will offer technical support for the metaverse service. SM Entertainment is a K-pop powerhouse. It will provide expertise in producing and planning entertainment content.  
 
“I believe the future of entertainment will be about celebrities and robots,” said Lee Soo-man, SM Entertainment’s founder and chief producer in a speech at the signing ceremony at KAIST in Daejeon on Thursday.
 
“And before robots, there will be avatars and that’s why we consider this feature so important.”
 
SM’s latest girl group, aespa, is comprised of four human members with matching avatars that can perform in a virtual world. Some of the group’s music videos present the human members and avatars interacting together.  
 
The agreement between KAIST and SM also includes plans to conduct research in what they call “culture technology.” According to Lee, the term refers to a system where technology can be used to produce K-pop content.  
 
“For myself and SM, a core focus is searching for new technology and finding ways to create new content and a new experience,” he added.  
 
“This ‘culture technology’ should not stop at our generation. My belief is that this has to be written down as a manual, be spread and delivered to future generations.”
 

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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