How would you describe what you do at BuzzAR to someone you’re meeting for the very first time?

We create fun, immersive experiences.

What role does AI play in BuzzAR’s future growth, and what challenges and friction do you foresee the company facing?

We see AI as a key driver of our future growth. As an immersive technology company, we are constantly exploring new ways to enhance the user experience, and AI provides us with a powerful tool to achieve that. 

BuzzAR is investing in AI-powered solutions, including Generative AI, ChatGPT, and its proprietary algorithms, to make our applications smarter, more intuitive, and more personalised to the needs of individual users.

Most importantly, in 2023, we need to remove the friction to onboard people. We need to bring it to people in real life (IRL). As such, we create avatars IRL in real time, onboarding people at shopping malls, hotels, and other exciting venues. 

In the first nine months of 2022, Meta lost US$9.4 billion on its metaverse subsidiary, Reality Labs. In February of the same year, BuzzAR successfully raised US$3.8 million in a seed round. What vision of the metaverse do you subscribe to that gives your investors confidence in your product?

We do not build virtual worlds that have no users. It goes back to the point where I have seen large banking institutions and MNCs buy virtual worlds on Roblox and Decentraland, and then struggle to get users to hang out at their “land”. This does not make sense to us.

Instead, BuzzAR focuses on avatars — the first entry point to the metaverse. We have tripled our revenue since our last financial year, helping over ten large enterprises. For some clients, we give them 100 times the expected ROIs. Encouraging numbers like that are our value add — momentum and growth rate then become inevitable for our investors and stakeholders.

Related: Photographer Geoff Ang stays ahead of artificial intelligence

A human-centric experience

AI Singapore

In many interviews you’ve given, you’ve mentioned that for BuzzAR, the approach is human experience first. What is one aspect of humanity that can be easily replaced or made better by AR, and which one can’t?

Avatar, using AR and AI, can allow you to be whoever you want to be. 

For example, we have Muslim female users who have to practise certain religious norms IRL. However, standing in front of our Metaport, they can dress up in “Victoria’s Secret” garments and are able to express themselves in a way that is prohibited in the real world. 

It’s about liberty, empowerment, and the togetherness that we are giving to people.

What role do you see AI playing in the future plans of BuzzAR?

We are rolling out MetaChat, a ChatGPT powered AI Chatbot with Generative AI features. The metahuman is called Bae and can perceive, talk, and respond with human-like behaviour, enabling the creation of immersive training experiences at scale. 

Through the use of real-time analytics and seamless integration across multiple platforms, they unlock human potential and meet the unique needs of every traveller, shopper, gamer, and user like you and me.

It’s about liberty, empowerment, and togetherness.

Bell Beh, Co-Founder and CEO of BuzzAR

What is the most irrational fear humans have toward AI technology today, and how do you think that fear can be navigated?

I do not think that there are irrational fears. If a society is driven by fear, that society is seemingly destined to be doomed. 

Fear will not drive creativity, wisdom, or love. We should not teach our next generation to be that way. I think we should be honest about the benefits of AI, but at the same time, practise good AI governance as we grow with the technology.

2022 and 2023 can be regarded as the years that AI made its presence truly felt in society. Why do you think this is happening now at this point in time? 

Rome was not built in a day. There were gradual steps to success and acceptance, which people only feel now. 

When I was at UC Berkeley in 2018, we already had strong feelings and robust discussions about AI, StyleGAN, and deepfake. All of these eventually evolved to the point where AI is ubiquitous in our daily conversations and debates. This is the evolution we are seeing today.

When you look at the state of the world today, what is the one thing that gives you hope?

That my mum can use our ChatGPT-powered AI chatbot to ask questions in her voice, and she can get answers in rich texts and stunning images. This is just the beginning.