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BTS agency's AI audio technology wing recreates voice of singer with paralyzed limbs

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 27, 2023, 17:48 Updated : December 28, 2023, 00:07
Courtesy of Hybe
[Courtesy of Hybe / JTBC]
SEOUL -- Supertone, the artificial intelligence audio technology wing of the BTS agency, has recreated the voice of Kim Hyeok-geon, a South Korean singer whose four limbs were paralyzed in a traffic accident in 2012. Kim showcased a performance with a virtual replica of himself realized through artificial intelligence technology.  

The 42-year-old artist is a vocalist of "The Cross," a South Korean rock band formed in 2003. Kim gained popularity for his unique screaming vocal technique before the accident. However, he is unable to perform as he used to due to his shortness of breath caused by his disability.

Hybe said on December 27 that Kim presented a duet performance with his AI digital twin on a music program of South Korean cable TV broadcaster JTBC. Supertone collected 20 years of broadcast material featuring the artist's voice and created an AI singer capable of reaching extremely high notes. "I could successfully perform on a live stage even under such difficult conditions," Kim said, adding that he is glad to collaborate with AI.

In May 2023, Supertone's audio technique was used for "Masquerade," a digital single rolled out in May this year. The song was produced by transforming the voice of Lee Hyun, a member of the disbanded vocal group 8Eight. The company also provided its audio technique for Disney+'s drama series "Big Bet" to recreate the voice of Choi Min-sik, a 61-year-old veteran actor who was playing the role of a young character in his 30s.

In January this year, Hybe secured a 56.1 percent stake in Supertone by investing 45 billion won ($34.7 million). Hybe's chairman Bang Si-hyuk mentioned that the development of generative AI technology is one of his agency's main strategies. Generative AI services are used to produce on-demand images, text, and videos. 

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