Home Technology How China’s digital platforms are using AI technology

How China’s digital platforms are using AI technology

Is ChatGPT already in China? You bet, and so is Midjourney, AI-operated Taobao clothes shops and Douyin's fascinating Virtual Kaka platform...

by Celine Tang
0 comment

The launch of ChatGPT has made AI a global talking point, and while many debate the pros and cons of this novel technology, China’s social media and e-commerce enterprises have been hawkish about incorporating it into their ecosystems, writes Qing Na from Dao Insights

The recent China market entry by Midjourney, a world-renowned AI-generative painting application, through Tencent’s messaging app QQ caused a buzz in China’s digital sphere. However, the news of its landing soon drew questions after the unexplained deletion of an announcement on 17 May through a public account on WeChat under the name of “Midjourney AI” sparked speculation around restrictions on foreign AI services entering China. 

launchpad gateway

However, a report from 36Kr, a Chinese news media outlet focusing on the new economy, confirmed Midjourney’s foray into China and that “Midjourney AI” is its official account on WeChat, citing “several sources close to the matter”. 

Embedded in the household social networking app QQ, the AI plug-in is yet to undergo an internal beta test. Accessible only after 6pm on Mondays and Fridays, a limited number of users are allowed to use it at any one time. Having launched on 15 May, the official channel is, unsurprisingly, at full capacity, indicating great interest among QQ users, who are predominately from the post-00s generation. 

Read Also
5 Chinese Gen-Z fashion trends you need to know

It is understood that each participating user is allowed to create up to 25 AI-generated images for free through Midjourney’s QQ channel, but QQ is reported to have been doubling its efforts to support the commercialisation of Midjourney on its platform.

Like QQ, Xiaohongshu has recently embraced AI-based painting technology. The platform introduced an AI-assisted content creation tool known as Trik AI in early April, which is currently followed by around 6,800 fans. 

Trik AI’s account on Xiaohongshu

Users can get AI-generative images either by uploading their own photos, which can then be converted into different styles such as manga, vintage and watercolour paintings, or by sending text prompts, such as “imaginative”. While fashion chasers have jumped at the chance to use the new feature, sharing their AI portraits, it has also fanned enthusiasm for the “AI digital makeup” trend, which has attracted over 624,000 views on Xiaohongshu, becoming a powerful tool for facilitating beauty-related content creation (one of Xiaohongshu’s main niches).

Viral short video platform Douyin (aka Chinese TikTok) unveiled an AI-powered virtual being user-generated content platform known as Virtual Kaka in late April in collaboration with its sister department PICO, a VR device maker under parent company ByteDance.

Touted as the first of its kind in the world and dedicated to people of the Asian diaspora, the platform integrates digital provisions, including AI, virtual human beings and virtual reality live streams, showing Douyin’s intention to level up its video-sharing space with some of the latest technologies while bringing about new digital experiences to keep digitally savvy users entertained. 

Read Also
How does Xiaohongshu work and why is it so popular?

Users can create “hyper-realistic” virtual avatars, and their digital replicas are believed to be able to perform in exactly the same way as real-life human beings without the assistance of any external motion-capturing devices. Equipped with Audio2Face, an AI tool that realises seamless conversion between voices and facial expressions, the platform incorporates the Chinese version of ChatGPT, which is set to power up the virtual being’s ability to provide real-time responses in live sessions. 

Alibaba’s e-commerce giants Taobao and its sister Tmall are also trying to leverage AI to transform e-commerce and live streams. On 10 April 2023, Tmall Digital (a digital innovation incubator) launched a programme looking for partners with expertise in AI-generated content (AIGC) video content creation and live streaming strategies. Alibaba has tested the waters for this idea with the birth of the first AI-operated mock Taobao clothing shop, LumiWink, which debuted in April. A video introducing the AI creation process garnered more than 2.7 million views on China’s YouTube-like platform Bilibili. Having borrowed the intelligence of ChatGPT, which was incorporated into the branding, store set-up, product design, and marketing, the online outlet is made up entirely of the fruits of AI. 

AI tools on Douyin

Soon after the launch, the store recorded its first sale, with Taobao sending a welcome message on Weibo, which made another splash in the digital space. The store’s first AI-designed product is also expected to be revealed during the upcoming 618 mid-year e-commerce shopping festival. 

These developments show that China’s digital platforms are actively embracing AI technology in various domains, including painting applications, virtual beings and e-commerce. These efforts are targeted at enhancing user experiences and exploring new possibilities in the digital landscape, contributing to the ongoing trend of industry digitalisation. As AI continues to advance, China’s digital platforms are likely to maintain their leading position in adopting and utilising this transformative technology.

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More