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Issue #8 – Playing With Reality – The New Renaissance 🚀🔮🌟

Thijs Pepping
April 26, 2021

“Playing with Reality” is the title of our upcoming book on synthetic media and the follow-up to our 2008 book “Me the Media”. Playing with Reality is about how humans continuously manipulate reality and how new digital technology tools enable us to go one step further in this ancient game. This includes modern phenomena like conspiracy theories such as QAnon, Deepfakes, and fake news, but also virtual humans such as CGI Influencer Lil Miquela and virtual worlds like Fortnite.

Last week we saw several use cases that all involved digital characters. It’s the digital reincarnation of Albert Einstein, who you can ask all kinds of scientific questions. It’s Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams that appears as an avatar in the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons to create awareness for circular fashion. It’s MetaHuman Creator from Unreal Engine that allows you to create your own Digital Human. And it’s the black astronaut Aku that was sold as an NFT and is now going to Hollywood to star in movies. According to experts these are all signs that the Metaverse is coming. All these digital characters, that are now invading our digital realms, are an example of the democratization of creativity. A new Digital Renaissance is coming!

Introducing Digital Einstein

On the 100th year anniversary of Albert Einstein winning the Nobel Prize for Physics, one of the smartest minds and most recognisable personalities in modern history is stepping back into the fray. Digital Einstein is a realistic recreation of his namesake, embodying the great man’s personality and knowledge – multiplied by the power of conversational AI and powered by UneeQ’s digital human platform.

Introducing Digital Einstein | A UneeQ AI companion
Introducing Digital Einstein | A UneeQ AI companion

Maisie Williams x H&M

H&M has enlisted Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams for its debut on smash hit video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, with a sustainability-themed island designed to promote the brand’s recently launched garment recycling machine Looop. The clothing brand will work with Williams and her avatar on several initiatives throughout the year to drive change in fashion in the virtual world and real life.On 13 April, players will be able to meet Williams on H&M Looop Island in the Nintendo Switch title, together with Pascal Brun, global sustainability manager at H&M. Players visiting the island can learn more about recycling, interact with H&M and share their thoughts about circular fashion by leaving a note on the H&M Looop Island notice board. 

Maisie Williams x H&M
Maisie Williams x H&M

MetaHuman Creator Early Access Out Now

MetaHuman Creator, a cloud-based app for creating high-fidelity digital humans in minutes, is now available in Early Access. Using MetaHuman Creator, you can manipulate facial features, adjust skin complexion, edit teeth, and select from a preset range of body types, hairstyles, clothing, and so on. When you finish your character, you can export and download it, rigged and ready to animate, in Unreal Engine.

MetaHuman Creator Early Access Out Now: Meet the Team | Unreal Engine
MetaHuman Creator Early Access Out Now: Meet the Team | Unreal Engine

Monster Mash: A Sketch-Based Tool for Casual 3D Modeling and Animation

3D computer animation is a time-consuming and highly technical medium — to complete even a single animated scene requires numerous steps, like modeling, rigging and animating, each of which is itself a sub-discipline that can take years to master. Because of its complexity, 3D animation is generally practiced by teams of skilled specialists and is inaccessible to almost everyone else, despite decades of advances in technology and tools. With the recent development of tools that facilitate game character creation and game balance, a natural question arises: is it possible to democratize the 3D animation process so it’s accessible to everyone?

We believe this new way of creating animation is intuitive and can thus help democratize the field of computer animation, encouraging novices who would normally be unable to try it on their own as well as experts who often require fast iteration under tight deadlines.

NFT Character Optioned for TV and Film

Aku, a young Black boy who dreams of becoming an astronaut, was an NFT character created by artist and former Major League Baseball player Micah Johnson in February that sold more than $2 million worth of the tokens in a day. Little Aku has a whole backstory and was inspired by Johnson’s nephew who once asked him if astronauts could be Black. Now Aku is heading to the screen through a production deal with Anonymous Content and Permanent Content, a film and TV company founded by singer Shawn Mendes.

Market Map of the Metaverse

“Trillions of dollars: that’s how much private industry is investing into the metaverse. The metaverse is not “a” metaverse. It is the next generation of the Internet: a multiverse. The abundant adventures in this space will surround us both socially and graphically.”Jon Radoff has written two interesting articles about the metaverse. In his first article he provides a description of the value chain of this market, from the experiences that people seek out to the enabling technologies that make it possible. In the second article he lays out the market map of the metaverse.

Scientists Create Early Embryos That Are Part Human, Part Monkey

For the first time, scientists have created embryos that are a mix of human and monkey cells. The embryos were created in part to try to find new ways to produce organs for people who need transplants. Mmm, so Planet of the Apes is no longer science fiction?

VINT Summit: The Reality Show

On the 15th of June 2021 we are organizing our yearly summit. This year we try to answer the question how digital technology is changing our relationship with reality. So if you want to know more about deepfakes, virtual humans, cgi influencers, synthetic media, AR, VR and mixed reality, please register yourself. And it’s free!


Playing with Reality is a weekly newsletter in which SogetiLabs’s Research Institute VINT examines the future where synthetic reality becomes part or our objective reality. We investigate the impact of new technology on people, organisations and our society. If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach us at

About the author

Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Thijs Pepping is a humanistic trend analyst in the field of new technologies. He is part of the think tank within SogetiLabs and in his work he continuously wonders and analyses what the impact of New Technologies is on our lives, organizations and society.


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