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Virtually real

By Deng Zhangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-17 07:56

College students take a photo with members of digital dance team VirtualReal after they finish a performance in Shanghai in August.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Digital avatars are enjoying an explosion in popularity, especially among the younger generation, Deng Zhangyu reports.

"Are you a human?" As questions go, this is one of the more bizarre. But, nonetheless, it is asked, in all seriousness, by a boy. He is addressing his query to, well, what appears to be a woman putting on makeup in front of a dressing table in a video posted on video-sharing platform Douyin, known as TikTok overseas. The "woman" named Liu Yexi then invites the boy to reach out for her "hand", ushering him into a fantasy world mixing reality with the virtual.

Posting the two-minute video on Oct 31, the avatar, wearing exquisite makeup, attracted more than 1 million fans and 2 million likes in a single day.

Liu is definitely not human. She is a virtual idol, whose creator describes her as a "virtual beauty vlogger" on her Douyin account, which has about 5 million followers as of mid-November, only two weeks after her debut on the short video platform.

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